World Leaders Use Caution in Response to Ukraine Crisis

Kerry and Lavrov meet in Paris
Since Russian troops began taking up positions in Crimea last week, world leaders have responded sometimes cautiously, but sometimes forcefully.

CCTV’s Nathan King analyzes the meaning, and the tone, of the international response.

Follow Nathan King on Twitter@nathanking

As the international community tries to get Russia to talk to the interim Ukrainian government, the rhetoric used by the world’s leaders and diplomats is also evolving.

When it comes to crafting the diplomatic response to the crisis in Ukraine words are everything. Just last weekend the U.S. was using words like “incursion” to describe Russian actions in the Crimea. And the stronger U.S. rhetoric is backed by some actions. While the U.S. maintains that force is not an option, the Pentagon announced a show of force Wednesday.

Charles Hagel, U.S. Secretary of Defense, said, “The Department of Defense is pursuing measures to support our allies, including stepping up joint training through our aviation attachment in Poland.

The European message, meanwhile, has been more measured

William Hague the United Kingdom Foreign Secretary said, “We are trying to use every diplomatic opportunity to bring Russia and Ukraine into direct contact with each other.”

And Germany too is cautious. A recent statement from the government said Berlin was,
“Entirely focused on bringing about a political process…all of us know that it’s the only reasonable way out of this crisis.”

Mixed messages, but perhaps also a ‘carrot-and-stick’ approach. The U.S., with the largest economy and the strongest military in the world, is also less dependent on Russia. Europe, which depends on consensus among 28 nations and is heavily dependent on supplies of Russian gas to keep the lights on, is perhaps more cautious.

As for the Russia, while being accused of armed intervention, the talk was of fraternity.

Vladimir Putin, Russian President said through a translator, “We believe, and we will believe that Ukraine is not only our closest neighbor, but is indeed our brotherly republic. And our armed forces are brothers in arms, friends, many of them know each other personally.”

Putin also denies that Russian troops are outside their bases in Crimea.

The issue is the choice of words by U.S. and European politicians and diplomats in response to this crisis. Remember, before the Ukrainian crisis escalated, a top American diplomat used an expletive to describe European inaction over Ukraine. No expletives, at least publically this week, but the difference in the rhetoric suggest significant divisions remain.