Testimony: John Kerry, US Secretary of State

Opening Statement Before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations

U.S. Capitol, Washington, DC

April 8, 2014

Well, thank you, Mr. Chairman, very much, Ranking Member Corker, members of the committee. I’m very happy to be back here and appreciate enormously the committee’s indulgence to have shifted this hearing because it came at a critical moment just before I was asked by the President to meet with Lavrov relative to Ukraine. And so I also want to thank everybody on the committee for working so hard to move the nominations, which obviously is critical. I think our – it’s not the fault of the committee, but with a combination of vetting process and public process and so forth and the combination of the slowdown on the floor of the Senate, I think we’re averaging something like 220-some days and some people at 300 days and some over 365 days. So I have literally only in the last month gotten my top team in place one year in, and I’m very grateful to the committee. Mr. Chairman, you’ve worked really hard to make that happen, and the ranking member, great cooperation. Senator McCain, others, helped to intervene on that, and I’m – I want to thank you all for that.

A lot of questions, Senator Corker, that you raised, and I really look forward to answering all of them because there is a cohesive approach. We’re living in an extremely complicated world unlike anything most of us grew up with. And we can talk about that here today because it really is critical to the question of how we deal, as the United States, in our budget and our own politics here and in our – in the choices we make.

Obviously – Senator Corker just brought it up – the intense focus on Ukraine continues. And everything that we’ve seen in the last 48 hours from Russian provocateurs and agents operating in eastern Ukraine tells us that they’ve been sent there determined to create chaos. And that is absolutely unacceptable. These efforts are as ham-handed as they are transparent, frankly. And quite simply, what we see from Russia is an illegal and illegitimate effort to destabilize a sovereign state and create a contrived crisis with paid operatives across an international boundary engaged in this initiative.

Read the full testimony here.