Kerry: ISIL a Threat to Russia, Too

By Scott Stearns
VOA News

This article originally was posted to the Voice of America website on September 11.

Jeddah, Saudia Arabia — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and the U.S. administration are disappointed by Russia’s initial reaction to President Obama’s speech on the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) on September 10.

In an interview with VOA in Saudi Arabia the evening of September 11, Kerry said, “I would hope that Russia will come to see that ISIL really represents a threat to them, too.

“There are problems through many of the countries around Russia and near Russia and even in some of the parts of Russia,” he said, referring to its experience with Chechnya. “There are terrorists, many of whom will take an example from ISIL and what is happening [in Syria and Iraq].”

Syria and Russia are both denouncing Obama’s threat to attack ISIL fighters in Syria. Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said such action without the consent of the Syrian government or the U.N. Security Council “would be an act of aggression, a gross violation of international law.”

Kerry said Russia should not block the coalition, however, but should join the international effort against ISIL militants.

Kerry said the Obama administration hopes Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government will help the international community “engage in responsible behavior to deal with” ISIL and end the war in Syria.

“I think over time, Russia will see that the real need is for them to be more cooperative and stop supporting a guy like [Syrian President Bashar al-Assad], who kills his own population, and to help bring about a political solution,” he said.

“We are looking to Russia to help bring about a political solution,” said Kerry. “We still believe that’s the only solution for what is happening in Syria.”

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