Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) today released the following statement on the situation in Ukraine:
“Since the crisis in Ukraine began nearly a year ago, President Obama has stubbornly refused to provide lethal military assistance that would help Ukraine defend its sovereign territory and determine its own political future free of Russian coercion. By doing so, the President has isolated himself from the growing consensus – including some of the leading voices in his own political party – that this beleaguered democracy needs and deserves increased American support.
“Just yesterday, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton yesterday urged the United States to ‘do more to help Ukraine defend its borders’ with ‘new equipment [and] new training for the Ukrainians.’ ‘I think the Ukrainian army and the Ukrainian civilians who’ve been fighting against the separatists have proven that they’re worthy of some greater support,’ Secretary Clinton said.
“And in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee yesterday, Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski, national security advisor to President Jimmy Carter, stated that ‘NATO and especially the U.S. should make some defensive weaponry available to Ukraine.’ ‘Not to provide them simply increases Russia's temptation to escalate the intervention,’ Brzezinski said.
“In his State of the Union address, President Obama declared that the ‘shadow of crisis has passed’ while trumpeting the success of his diplomatic efforts against Russia.
“But the shadow of crisis still looms over Ukraine. Sanctions and low oil prices have battered Russia’s economy, but have done nothing to curb Vladimir Putin’s aggression in Ukraine. Nearly 5,000 people have been killed in the conflict, and nearly one million more forced to flee their homes. Russian-backed separatists are on the offensive in eastern Ukraine, their mortar and rocket attacks inflicting horrific civilian casualties. Just yesterday, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said as many as 9,000 Russian troops are inside his country as the flow of Russian tanks, heavy artillery, and armored vehicles continues. NATO’s top military commander, U.S. Air Force General Philip Breedlove said recently, ‘We are beginning to see the (heat) signatures of air defense systems and electronic warfare systems that have accompanied past Russian troop movements into Ukraine.’
“After enduring tragedy and defeat, Ukrainians have not backed down. Brave warriors known as ‘cyborgs’ have fought with legendary determination to hold the Donetsk airport, a bombed-out ruin of no operational value that has become a symbol of Ukraine’s defiant spirit.
“It is time for the President to demonstrate America’s own spirit of resolve by providing Ukraine the lethal military assistance it needs to defend itself. Failing to do so would be an unmistakable sign of weakness not only to Putin, but to potential aggressors around the world.”