Putin's 'completely trumped-up pretext'

Secretary Of State Kerry Testifies On The Iran Nuclear Deal
Secretary of State John Kerry testifies before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Dec. 10, 2013 in Washington, DC.
Secretary of State John Kerry appeared on CBS's "Face the Nation" yesterday, condemning Russia's invasion of Ukrainian territory. The following excerpt stood out:

"Well, it's an incredible act of aggression. It is really a stunning, willful choice by President Putin to invade another country. Russia is in violation of the sovereignty of Ukraine. Russia is in violation of its international obligations. Russia is in violation of its obligations under the U.N. charter, under the Helsinki final act. It's in violation of its obligations under the 1994 Budapest agreement. "You just don't, in the 21st Century, behave in 19th Century fashion by invading another country on completely trumped-up pretext."

All of this is true, of course. It's easy to imagine, however, how some around the world blink, at least a little, hearing a U.S. leader make comments like these after we invaded another country on completely trumped-up pretext.
Regardless, Kerry is doing far more than just appearing on Sunday shows. The Secretary of State will travel to Kiev tonight to meet with Ukrainian officials about the crisis. What's more, Peter Baker reports that President Obama has begun working the phone from the Oval Office, rallying allies and approving "a series of diplomatic and economic moves intended to 'make it hurt,' as one administration official put it."
If Russian President Vladimir Putin expects the West to be at all divided during the crisis, he's likely to be disappointed.
From the New York Times' report:

Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany told Mr. Obama by telephone on Sunday that after speaking with Mr. Putin she was not sure he was in touch with reality, people briefed on the call said. ''In another world,'' she said.

When U.S. conservatives started praising Putin with greater enthusiasm, one of their arguments was that Russia "seems to be gaining prestige" on the global stage. There's ample reason to believe the opposite is true.
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