Secretary of State John Kerry's statement on Friday that talk of sanctions against Russia are nothing personal serve only to embolden Russian President Vladimir Putin, says Sen. Bob Corker.
"Our administration is creating an air of permissiveness," Corker, a Tennessee Republican, said on "Fox News Sunday."
"It’s those comments that cause Putin to question what our resolve is."
Kerry stated after several hours of unsuccessful negotiations with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, "We hope President Putin will recognize that none of what we're saying is meant as a threat. It's not meant in a personal way."
Corker called Kerry's comment "not helpful," and said, "It shows a wishy-washiness that we do not as a nation at this point need to show."
Russian troops have been controlling Crimea for weeks and Russian troops are amassing along the Ukraine border in the northern provinces. Crimea was holding a referendum Sunday
in which it is expected to vote to leave Ukraine and join the Russian Federation.
Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told Fox News that Putin has "started a game of Russian roulette." The United States and Europe have to be very clear in their response, he said, because Putin will calculate about how far he can go."
"This will be a major miscalculation of behalf of Putin if he were to move into eastern Ukraine," Corker said. Though he doesn't expect that to happen, he noted that Putin has made miscalculations in the past.
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