Skip to main content

Rice: Russian military interference in Ukraine would be 'grave mistake'

By Ashley Fantz, CNN
updated 2:37 AM EST, Mon February 24, 2014
U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice warned it
U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice warned it "would be a grave mistake" if Russian President Vladimir Putin intervened militarily in the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • "The United States is on the side of the Ukrainian people," Susan Rice says
  • Expert says Ukraine and Russia are "linked by blood"
  • Sen. John McCain: If he were Putin, he would be nervous over raging protests

(CNN) -- U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice warned on Sunday that it "would be a grave mistake" if Russian President Vladimir Putin intervened militarily in the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.

Rice, who spoke on NBC's "Meet the Press," was among U.S. leaders saying they want to see a unity coalition government in the country after President Viktor Yanukovych fled Kiev, the capital, and a unanimous vote in Parliament removed him from power.

"The United States is on the side of the Ukrainian people," Rice said. The people expressed themselves peacefully, she said, and Yanukovych "turned on" the people by using violence against them.

Ukraine's president calls efforts to push him from office a 'coup'

Ukraine: what's next?
Ukraine in transition

A former Soviet republic closely allied with Russia, Ukraine is home to many people who speak Russian and identify with Russia.

David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker, recently returned from Russia and reported from the country for many years. On "Fareed Zakaria GPS" on Sunday, Remnick said that Putin considers Ukraine and Russia "linked by blood."

"If you look through Putin's eyes, specifically, this is his area of interest. It's not the United States and even not Europe," Remnick said. "This is really complicated for us."

Rice said the U.S. wants to see constitutional reform, democratic elections and a unity government, and President Barack Obama stressed that to Putin in a recent conversation.

"Putin was in agreement" at that time, Rice said.

Republican Sen. John McCain appeared on CBS's "Face the Nation" with strong words for Putin.

A partition of Ukraine would "not be acceptable," McCain said.

"The Ukrainian people will determine their own future. They want to be Western. ... They do not want to be Eastern," he said.

If he were Putin, he said, he would be nervous about the protest movement happening in Ukraine.

Appearing on "Fox News Sunday," Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, said he spoke with former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko on Saturday just after she was released from prison following a unanimous vote in Parliament.

Durbin said she assured him that she's "looking for a peaceful resolution to the problems in Ukraine, to follow the constitution and the law."

Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-New Hampshire, said there must be focus on forming a unity government. "Yanukovych needs to step aside, and I will say this: Now that the Olympics are over, we need to watch the behavior of the Russians," she said.

Obama "needs to up his game and send a clear, unequivocal, public message to Putin not to interfere in what is happening in Ukraine," Ayotte said, "to let the Ukrainian people determine their future, to ensure that there is no interference in their sovereignty."

Durbin agreed that more pressure should be placed on Putin.

"We have to combine our efforts with the European Union to help Ukraine move forward in a peaceful democratic way. We have to put the pressure on Putin to stop his efforts to undermine this natural evolution towards democracy," Durbin said, adding that he thinks Yanukovych "has always been a puppet of Moscow."

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 9:17 AM EST, Thu November 20, 2014
Donetsk's neediest line up for food handouts. There are long queues at the bus station as people try to leave town. There are no banks left open.
updated 5:25 AM EST, Tue November 25, 2014
Barking overwhelms the thud of artillery fire. An animal shelter is crammed with 1,000 dogs, many orphans of the conflict with owners who have fled or been killed.
updated 3:51 AM EDT, Fri October 3, 2014
Reza Sayah looks into why thousands of Ukrainians have left their old lives to volunteer to fight.
updated 4:48 PM EDT, Tue October 14, 2014
CNN's Ralitsa Vassileva speaks to The New Republic's Linda Kinstler about Putin's motives with Ukraine and China.
updated 10:36 AM EDT, Wed September 24, 2014
President Barack Obama speaks at the 69th session of the United Nations General Assembly.
updated 5:58 PM EST, Thu November 13, 2014
The Commander of NATO forces in Europe says Russian tanks, Russian artillery, Russian air defense systems and Russian troops -- all heading into Ukraine.
updated 8:58 AM EDT, Tue September 9, 2014
Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 broke apart in the air after it was hit by a burst of "high-energy objects" from outside, a preliminary report by Dutch aviation investigators said Tuesday.
updated 12:11 PM EDT, Wed September 3, 2014
On a country road in eastern Ukraine, a scene of bucolic tranquility was suddenly interrupted by the aftermath of carnage.
updated 4:19 PM EDT, Tue September 2, 2014
In the city of Donetsk, the devastation wrought by weeks of fighting between pro-Russia rebels and Ukrainian forces is all too apparent.
updated 8:00 PM EDT, Sun August 31, 2014
CNN's Diana Magnay reports from the front lines in the Ukrainian conflict.
updated 7:26 AM EDT, Mon September 1, 2014
A few miles south of the town of Starobeshevo in eastern Ukraine, a group of men in uniform is slumped under a tree.
updated 9:43 AM EDT, Sat August 23, 2014
A shopkeeper's mutilated body, relatives' anguish, homes destroyed ... this is Donetsk.
updated 7:12 AM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
A 20-minute drive from Kiev takes you to a neighborhood that feels more like Beverly Hills than central Ukraine.
updated 9:12 AM EST, Thu November 20, 2014
Photos illustrate the ongoing crisis in Ukraine as fighting continues to flare in the region.
updated 12:31 PM EDT, Thu July 31, 2014
Future imports, exports between the EU and Russia are now banned -- but existing contracts continue.
updated 11:40 AM EDT, Sun July 20, 2014
Some contend that larger weapons have come into Ukraine from Russia.
updated 5:25 AM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
The downing Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 put the pro-Russia rebels operating in Ukraine's eastern region center stage.
ADVERTISEMENT