I’ve found the whole transcript… I will paste the Martin and Holding conversation along with a response from Kerry as well….
This was Wednesday 9/4/2013 during the House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing.
REP. GEORGE HOLDING (R), NORTH CAROLINA: Militarily speaking, is Russia still a superpower?
DEMPSEY: I think the answer to that question is when you look at instruments of power, look at ourselves. So, it’s a combination of military, diplomatic and economic power that defines us as a — quote, unquote — “superpower.”
I think that Russia possesses elements that would qualify them to join the club of superpowers. They still have an incredible strategic arsenal. But, conventionally, I wouldn’t put them in that class. And so I think there’s parts of their apparatus that rise to that level.
HOLDING: Well, obviously, we all know that Syria and Russia are close allies. Syria is Russia’s last ally in the Middle East. Syria has the only Russian military base outside of Russia.
If Russia decided to strike at us in that theater, what are the top three options that they would have to strike us in retaliation for us striking their closest ally?
DEMPSEY: You know, Congressman, I’m going to suggest that it wouldn’t be helpful in this setting to have a discussion about that kind of hypothetical. But I do have some views about it that I could share in a classified environment.
HOLDING: Well, we can certainly say that Russia would have options to strike us in that theater in retaliation for us striking…
DEMPSEY: Russia has capabilities that range from the asymmetric, including cyber, all the way up through strategic nuclear weapons. And again it wouldn’t be helpful in this setting to speculate about that.
HOLDING: Yes, sir. Thank you.
Few minutes later….
KERRY: Can I just also — Congressman Holding left a question on the table that I want to make sure it’s not hanging out there.
KERRY: Foreign Minister Lavrov of Russia has made it clear — quote — I pretty much — paraphrase — Russia does not intend to fight a war over Syria.
And I have had personal conversations with President Putin and with the foreign minister that have indicated that Syria doesn’t rise to that level of potential conflict. And so I just — don’t their ships are kind of staying out of the way. They’re not threatening that. And I don’t think that would be what would happen here.
Russia releases key findings on chemical attack near Aleppo indicating similarity with rebel-made weapons
Probes from Khan al-Assal show chemicals used in the March 19 attack did not belong to standard Syrian army ammunition, and that the shell carrying the substance was similar to those made by a rebel fighter group, the Russian Foreign Ministry stated.
Things are heating up
Syria ‘chemical weapons’ crisis: LIVE UPDATES
International pressure has been building for a military strike on Syria in the wake of an alleged chemical weapons attack in a Damascus suburb. The West has laid the blame at the feet of President Assad, as UN experts collected chemical samples on-site.
Thursday, September 5
05:12 GMT: Russia has sent an official request to meet the US lawmakers with the aim of lobbying them on Syria. It’s after earlier speculations that Russia will send a delegation to Washington, DC.
02:52 GMT: While calling for reconciliation and denying his government used chemical weapons, Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal al-Mekdad told the Wall Street Journal if the US attacks Syria, Damascus would strike back not only at Israel, but also neighbors Jordan and Turkey if they participate in hostilities.
“Once the war starts nobody can control what will happen,” he said. “We believe that any attack against Syria will definitely result in chaos in the entire region if not beyond.”
Pope opposes war in Syria
02:41 GMT: The Vatican will host a day of fasting and a four-hour prayer vigil Saturday in St. Peter’s Square in opposition to US military strikes in Syria, the AP reported. The Vatican has invited bishops’ conferences the world over to host local version of the vigil.
In recent speeches, tweets and remarks, Pope Francis has called for a negotiated settlement to the Syrian conflict while condemning use of chemical weapons. “War never again! Never again war!” he tweeted earlier this week.
Russia warns of nuclear disaster if Syria is hit
A military strike on Syria could lead to a nuclear catastrophe if a missile were to hit a reactor containing radioactive uranium, a Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman warned. The remark comes as the US continues to push for a military strike on Syria.
“If a warhead, by design or by chance, were to hit the Miniature Neutron Source Reactor (MNSR) near Damascus, the consequences could be catastrophic,” Aleksandr Lukashevich said in a Wednesday statement.