Sasse Blasts John Kerry for Prioritizing Climate Change Cooperation as Russia Invades Ukraine | National Review

Sasse Blasts John Kerry for Prioritizing Climate Change Cooperation as Russia Invades Ukraine | National Review

Senator Ben Sasse (R., NE) on Thursday excoriated John Kerry, the Obama-era secretary of state turned Biden administration presidential envoy for climate, for his response to the then potential — and now ongoing — Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“Who the hell does John Kerry think he is? And, more importantly, is he unaware that widespread war is now possible in Europe for the first time in 77 years? This man is not the Secretary of Defense; he’s not the Secretary of State. John Kerry has a made-up position as International Climate Scold. Now’s not a great time, John,” Sasse said in a statement provided to National Review.

In an interview on Monday, Kerry fretted that the conflict might distract from the threat of climate change, and expressed his “hope” that “President Putin will help us to stay on track with what we need to do for the climate.”

Russian president Vladimir Putin announced that his country would proceed with a “special military operation” in Ukraine late on Wednesday night in the United States and early in the morning on Thursday in Russia and Ukraine. Since then, Russian and Ukrainian forces have been clashing, and Russian airstrikes have hit both military and civilian targets.

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President Biden has not yet addressed the American people, but has released a statement asserting that “Russia alone is responsible for the death and destruction this attack will bring, and the United States and its Allies and partners will respond in a united and decisive way.”

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In his address, Putin warned “those who would be tempted to intervene . . . will have consequences that you never have had before in your history.” Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky has said that “the government of Ukraine wants peace. It’s doing everything it can. We’re not alone. That’s true, lots of countries support Ukraine. Because this isn’t about peace at any price. It’s about peace, principles, justice, international law, the right to determine your own future.”

A state department spokesman responded to criticism of Kerry’s comments with the following statement: “Secretary Kerry strongly condemns the unprovoked and unjustified attack by Russian military forces. On Monday prior to the attack, he was asked about the climate implications of a potential future conflict.”

Kerry has also faced criticism from elected Republicans over his insistence on prioritizing cooperation with China on climate change over challenging the oppressive regime for its atrocious human-rights record.

“That’s not my lane,” Kerry said when asked whether he raised Beijing’s abuses with Chinese officials at the U.N. Climate Change Conference in November.