Secretary of State John Kerry's "wishy-washiness" is emboldening Russian President Vladimir Putin in his actions in Ukraine, Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), the ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Sunday.
Speaking last week with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Kerry had stressed his respect for Putin and said the international community's response to the Crimean situation was not intended to be a threat.
“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,” Kerry said.
But talking to Chris Wallace on "Fox News Sunday," Corker, who has helped to draft a Ukraine sanctions bill, said those remarks were unhelpful.
"There's no question our administration has created an air of permissiveness, and it's those kind of comments, Secretary Kerry and Lavrov exchanging gifts -- I think it's those comments that cause Putin to question what our resolve is," Corker said.
The senator said that he hoped Putin would back away from a potential escalation in Eastern Ukraine, but that the U.S. needs to show a long-term commitment to protecting Ukraine's sovereignty.
"The comment that Secretary Kerry made is not helpful, and it shows a wishy-washiness that we do not as a nation at this point need to show. We have commitments," Corker said.