In an interview recorded on February 21 and aired on February 23, 2022 on BBC Arabic (U.K.), former Secretary of State John Kerry, who currently serves as U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, said that he is concerned about the Ukraine crisis because the war would have “massive emissions consequences” and because people’s attention – and big countries’ attention – would be diverted away from the climate crisis. He said he hopes that Putin will realize that most of northern Russia is on frozen land that is now thawing, putting Russia’s infrastructure and people at risk. Expressing hope that diplomacy will succeed, and that Putin will help people “stay on track” regarding the climate, Kerry also said that he is concerned about the Ukrainian people, international law, and Russian attempts to change its boundaries by force.
In response, a State Department spokesperson provided comment to MEMRI: “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.”
John Kerry: “I’m very concerned about, I’m concerned about Ukraine because of the people of Ukraine and because of the principles that are at risk, in terms of international law and trying to change boundaries of international law by force. I thought we lived in a world that had said no to that kind of activity. And I hope diplomacy will win.
“But massive emissions consequences to the war but equally importantly, you’re going to lose people’s focus, you’re going to lose big country attention because they will be diverted and I think it could have a damaging impact. So, you know hopefully President Putin would realize that in the Northern part of his country, they used to live on 66% of the nation that was over frozen land.
“Now it’s thawing, and his infrastructure is at risk. And the people of Russia are at risk. And so I hope President Putin will help us to stay on track with respect to what we need to do for the climate.”