Kerry: 'High-pitched shrill' not better than private diplomacy

Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday said private diplomacy works just as well as "high-pitched shrill" messaging on television.

Kerry was responding to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who has called the United States's response to Russia's moves to annex Crimea "weak and inadequate."

"What John doesn't know is the substance of the private conversations we've had and the warnings that have been delivered and the realities on the table," Kerry told a local ABC affiliate in Washington Tuesday night. "Those often work, just as well, not everything has to be a high-pitched shrill message on television — sometimes you can send one quietly from president to president and it has a lot of meaning."

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The Obama administration issued sanctions on 11 Russian and Ukrainian officials earlier this week after the referendum in Crimea gained overwhelming support to break off from Ukraine and join Russia. 

The administration has warned of further sanctions after Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a treaty annexing the region Tuesday. 

McCain has called for the U.S. to help come up with a long-term support strategy for Ukraine's military and to offer humanitarian assistance to the region, as well as for expanding sanctions. 

In a separate interview, Kerry pushed back on the idea that Russian officials are not feeling the sanctions levied by the U.S. and the European Union. Kerry said they have to pretend to ignore them. 

"They say that, what do you expect?" he asked Washington's local CBS affiliate. "That is what bullies do. But the fact is when they go home and their cronies and friends lose their apartments and their rich properties and they can't move their money and they can't travel to places, this bites. And over time there is a lot more that will come in that will make a difference."

Kerry said Russia has become isolated politically, citing a recent U.N. Security Council resolution criticizing last weekend's referendum. Russia was the only country to reject it. China, an ally of Moscow, abstained.