John Kerry: Russia isolated by its own actions in Ukraine

KONFRONTASI-US Secretary of State John Kerry says Russia has isolated itself internationally through its actions in Ukraine.

The only way Russia can rebuild international credibility is by stopping its support for pro-Russian forces in Ukraine and helping to end the crisis there, Kerry said Thursday in a security meeting in Switzerland.

"It is not our design or desire that we see a Russia that is isolated through its own actions," he said, "In fact we are convinced that Moscow could rebuild trust and relationships if it simply helps to calm turbulent waters, if it takes steps now to implement the Minsk Protocol," he added.

Kerry made the remarks in a speech to foreign ministers from the 57-member Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). The top US diplomat and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov are scheduled to meet Thursday on the sidelines of the OSCE gathering in Basel.

Kerry said Washington and its allies are not seeking confrontation with Russia. He also urged Russia to use its influence in eastern Ukraine to release all hostages.

The Minsk Protocol was signed on September 5 in the Belarusian capital Minsk by the representatives of Ukraine, Russia, and pro-Russian forces in eastern Ukraine. Despite the ceasefire deal, the fighting continues unabated.

Kerry’s comments came as US President Barack Obama also intensified the harsh rhetoric against Moscow.

Obama said Wednesday that Russian President Vladimir Putin would not change his “nationalist, backward-looking” policy until the full force of economic sanctions against Moscow hit home.

Military tensions between NATO and Moscow have escalated steadily since April, when the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea reunited with the Russian Federation following a referendum a month earlier.

The United States accuses Russia of arming and supporting pro-Russian forces fighting in the predominantly Russian-speaking areas in eastern Ukraine. Moscow calls the accusations "groundless."

NATO’s military buildup in the alliance’s member states bordering Russia has drawn strong objections from Moscow, followed by warnings of well-measured response.[mr/ptv]