By Rebecca Shabad - 04/29/14 08:25 AM EDT
U.S. intelligence officials have recordings proving the Russian government has been directing a network of spies inside eastern Ukraine, Secretary of State John Kerry said in a closed-door meeting Friday, according to The Daily Beast.
“Intel is producing taped conversations of intelligence operatives taking their orders from Moscow and everybody can tell the difference in the accents, in the idioms, in the language. We know exactly who’s giving those orders, we know where they are coming from,” Kerry said in a private meeting with the Trilateral Commission, according to a recording The Daily Beast obtained.
The commission consists of a group of influential world leaders.
Kerry didn’t identify specific Russian officials involved in the recordings, the report said.
If Russian President Vladimir Putin invades eastern Ukraine, the U.S. has plans of sectoral sanctions, Kerry told the group, but clarified he’s unsure Putin will go that far.
“I’m not convinced he’s made the decision to cross the line with his troops because then it’s absolutely no question that its full force sector sanctions, energy, banking, finance, technology, arms, you name it, they are all on the table,” Kerry said.
At the same meeting with the Trilateral Commission, Kerry warned Israel was at risk of becoming an “apartheid” state, The Daily Beast reported.
His remarks provoked a firestorm of criticism from both Democratic and Republicans lawmakers including Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) who called for his resignation.
On Monday night, Kerry walked back his comments and said he “would have chosen a different word."