March 15th, 2014
05:04 PM ET
5 months ago

McCain calls U.S. military support for Ukraine "right and decent"

(CNN) - Speaking in Kiev, Sen. John McCain called Saturday for the United States to provide long-term military assistance to Ukraine, saying it is "the right and decent thing to do," as reports surfaced that Russian troops had traveled farther north into Ukraine from Crimea.

McCain was part of a bipartisan delegation of U.S. senators who traveled to Kiev ahead of Sunday's secession referendum in Crimea. The White House and U.S. allies in Europe have denounced the referendum as unconstitutional and illegal because Russian troops have essentially taken over the southern Ukraine peninsula.

McCain also had strong words for President Barack Obama in an op-ed appearing in The New York Times. He called for the President to take actions to restore the United States' credibility and strength around the world.

"Crimea has exposed the disturbing lack of realism that has characterized our foreign policy under President Obama. It is this worldview, or lack of one, that must change," wrote McCain.

Obama's administration, McCain wrote, supports the perception that the U.S. can "pull back from the world at little cost to our interests and values. This has fed a perception that the United States is weak, and to people like Mr. (Russian President Vladimir) Putin, weakness is provocative."

For McCain, this is embodied by a scaled-back missile defense program and defense budgets illustrating "hope, not strategy."

In his op-ed, McCain wrote that Iran and China have "bullied" America's allies and paid no price, and Bashar al-Assad crossed President Obama's "red line" by using chemical weapons in Syria and remains in power.

McCain portrayed Putin as determined to bring Russia's neighbors "back under Moscow's dominion by any means necessary." Putin's aggression in Crimea, McCain argued, is a symptom of "growing disregard for America's credibility in the world."

"Crimea must be the place where President Obama recognizes this reality and begins to restore the credibility of the United States as a world leader," McCain wrote.

In a press conference in Kiev, McCain and seven other senators, John Barasso (R-Wyo.), Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Christopher Murphy (D-Conn.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), said Congress stood with the people of Ukraine. They called for strict sanctions against Russia. However, McCain went further than his colleagues.

"Ukraine is going to need a long-term military assistance program from the U.S. - equipment both lethal and nonlethal," said McCain.

"They ask for some modest means that can help them resist. I believe we should provide it," McCain said.

McCain's comments followed a report Thursday from the Wall Street Journal that the U.S. balked at a Ukrainian request for military aid, and was wary of heightening tensions with Russia.

When reached for comment by CNN, a senior administration official at the White House would only confirm that a number of requests from Ukraine are on the table. Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk was in Washington earlier in the week to meet with Obama and U.S. lawmakers.

McCain called on the Obama administration to come to the aid of the Ukrainian government and people "in their hour of greatest need."

McCain's trip to Ukraine followed his efforts over the past week to pass legislation in the Senate.

The Senate package includes $1 billion in U.S. loan guarantees, as well as $50 million to boost democracy building in Ukraine and $100 million for enhanced security cooperation for Ukraine and some of its neighbors.

It also includes proposed sanctions against individual Ukrainians and Russians responsible for the violence against anti-government protesters and those who have undermined the stability and sovereignty of Ukraine.

However, the measure has stalled in the Senate as it also includes approval of long-delayed reforms at the International Monetary Fund that are opposed by many Republicans.

McCain said on the Senate floor Thursday he was "embarrassed" that fellow Republicans were putting disputes over the IMF and campaign finance reform ahead of the Ukrainians.

But in Kiev on Saturday, McCain sounded more optimistic. He said that Congress and Obama would work together on supporting Ukraine.

"This is too serious for partisanship," McCain said.

Murphy, a supporter of the measure, also spoke of the Senate taking an active role as events unfold in Crimea.

"The world is watching, and the message that we bring today both to Ukraine and to Russia is that the United States Senate is watching as well," he said.

McCain and Durbin said they spoke with Secretary of State John Kerry and Samantha Power, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. Kerry returned to Washington after meeting with Russia's foreign minister in London.

Power was present at the U.N. Security Council in New York, where a U.S. drafted resolution declaring the Crimea referendum invalid was vetoed by Russia. Thirteen of the 15 Security Council members backed the resolution, while China abstained from the vote.

Overshadowing the events of the day were reports from the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine that about 60 Russian troops in six helicopters assisted by three armed vehicles crossed into Ukraine's Kherson region, which borders Crimea.

The State Border Guard Service of Ukraine said the Russian troops were on the ground and the Ukrainian guards had taken defensive positions.

Power, speaking to press after the session, said that if Russian troops had crossed further into Ukraine it would be an "outrageous escalation."


Filed under: Chris Murphy • Dick Durbin • John Kerry • John McCain • Russia • Ukraine
soundoff (546 Responses)
  1. Darlene

    It takes more strength, dignity and integrity to live in peace. Strength is not dropping bombs on someone or to hide behind "security" and the military and paper money and propaganda. In fact all the political /religious/royal leaders in todays world are weak cowards, from Obama to Putin to the Taliban, to Cameron, to Merkel to Hollande, to McCain, To Kerry, to Kissinger, to the Bush family to the Queen, to the Pope. Name any political, religious or person in the press including the banksters like Carney, Goldman Sachs, Wall Street, Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, McNerney making money from making people sick and/or killing them or creating a false economy. There are way too many cowards in the world right now and not enough space to list them all. When will leaders arise that have integrity and dignity and speak from the heart about how precious life is and and treat all life as sacred. It is an abomination what has happened to the world and to the press that prints the words of these lying cowards! The right and decent thing to do is stop the march to a police/military world and have some self respect! Paint, laugh, sing dance, plant a garden, cook a good meal, play on the beach, spend time with friends and family, talk a walk in the woods, listen to the birds, sit on a rock – anything but this constant war-mongering.

    March 15, 2014 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  2. NameAlbrit

    Mr: McCain only wants billions dollars for him and his powerfull friends, he don't care about Ukranian people, he wants billions dollars in sales arms.l put this simple,"Mu Ukranians friends, my Goverment will give you 15 billions, but you have to buy my partners 4billons in military aid".

    March 15, 2014 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  3. Omugabe

    USA did dodge a big bullet by rebuffing this warmongers run for the Presidency.

    Curmudgeon Mcaint never sees a war that he doesn't want to incite, inflame or join.
    A warmonger if the world has ever seen one.

    Did Russia involve themselves in America's many wars?
    Did China?
    Do Russia & China seek to involve themselves in every conflict on the planet? NO!
    Why can US act like those mature and responsible nations?

    One of the reasons US is so much in debt is the drain of TOO MANY WARS on the US treasury.
    And this senile old fool is hell-bent on seeing US becoming poorer by joining war in Syria, inciting war among the Slavic people of Russia & Ukraine.

    Truth about Slavic Ukraine & Russia is that only fools are going to involve themselves.

    Any military aid to Ukraine will only ensure Ukrainian deaths! Not one American is going to die for Ukraine. NOT ONE!
    Americans are not stupid enough to tempt Russian nukes.

    March 15, 2014 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  4. Matthew McLendon

    Finally, Senator McCain is speaking common sense. Why won't anyone listen to him? The more time we spend arguing and waiting about helping Ukraine, the more time Russia has to invade more land of Ukraine without paying the price. We are America!! We help and protect our allies and they would do the same. If you see your friend getting beat up, youre not gonna sit by and throw restraining orders, youre gonna jump in and help defend him. We should do the same for Ukraine!!

    March 15, 2014 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm |
  5. rb1948

    Thank goodness we do not have a President McCain or President Romney. If we did, young Americans would be parachuting into the Ukraine as we speak – to be killed in another useless war solely so corporate suppliers of the DOD could make money. Republicans don't see wars as places where young people die – they see them as economic opportunities

    March 15, 2014 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  6. h

    We need to focus on problems at home instead of worrying about Russia versus Ukraine. John McCain should be back home focusing on how to solve domestic issues. What's he doing over in Kiev?

    March 15, 2014 11:28 pm at 11:28 pm |
  7. James

    And during your illustrious career as a Potus wanna be, you famously said that you know how to win wars. Name one. Please.

    March 15, 2014 11:29 pm at 11:29 pm |
  8. jhowell882

    what happened to republican balance the budget and cut the food stamps thing? it's OK to give millions in military aide?
    something smells and it is coming from the republican party

    March 15, 2014 11:33 pm at 11:33 pm |
  9. jhowell882

    what happened to republican balance the budget and cut the food stamps thing? it's OK to give millions in military aide?
    something smells and it is coming from the republican party

    March 15, 2014 11:33 pm at 11:33 pm |
  10. rabbit

    Um, Could I go to sleep without you GUYS blowing the world up? I really worked hard today you know. Just make them give the Russians a Hong Kong like lease on the base and the port. and the easement for the gas lines. I don't see how that can be this hard? -

    March 15, 2014 11:33 pm at 11:33 pm |
  11. patches

    Sure McCain. I'd start WW3 if I wasn't around to see it either.

    March 15, 2014 11:33 pm at 11:33 pm |
  12. steven

    Stop this already. Stop starting wars. Stop getting people killed. Stop trying to bring us back into a cold war or even WW3(though that's not likely whatsoever), Stop sending people to their deaths from the comfort of your expensive chair.

    March 15, 2014 11:34 pm at 11:34 pm |
  13. stephen48739

    Go on, Senator McCain, keep on beating those war drums. Most of your fellow Americans are weary of war and we're not listening to your music.

    March 15, 2014 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
  14. Lighten up, Francis

    So Senator Bomb Iran wants to bomb someone else? I'm shocked ...

    March 15, 2014 11:38 pm at 11:38 pm |
  15. gafa

    We should send McCain over there with his gun. He has experience of war. He knows how to shoot.

    March 15, 2014 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  16. anthony

    Mr. McCain get a clue....the US is a war weary republic, and has no desire to get into a major war with Russia, so you rhetoric is utterly pointless....that said the Obama administration does need to stop acting weak with Russia. Crimea is gone...it's time to face the the facts, Crimea is now Russia's and Ukraine is not getting it back, that said we can save Eastern Europe very easily...place a couple nukes back Turkey withing striking distance of Moscow...let the Ruskies know there may be serious consequences for any more actions against Eastern Europe

    March 15, 2014 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  17. Me too

    There is not a coun try in the world that McCain does not want to bomb the hell out of. This guys is an idiot, not far behind Sarah Palin.

    March 15, 2014 11:41 pm at 11:41 pm |
  18. Bobby Mason

    It is not right. We don't have the money for one thing. It is not our fight for another thing. My god, what is up with people and war? Don't we have some Islamists to go after?

    March 15, 2014 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  19. airjackie

    McCain has wanted to go to War with anyone since Bush left office and get the Contractors back to getting money like they did during the Afghanistan/Iraq Wars. This is not a US problem it is a United Nations problem. McCain/Graham made promises to continue giving money for Wars and tried to push the US into Libya, Egypt, Iran, Syria and now Ukrainian. We lost over 7,000 soldiers in Iraq based on complete lies and all the Republicans wanted was control of Iraq oil. Where was McCain when Putin invaded Georgia as Bush ignored it and Cheney said if there is oil we will get involved.

    March 15, 2014 11:46 pm at 11:46 pm |
  20. duane putnam

    US and NATO should provide some military "Aid" directly to Russia! A couple hundred cruise missiles dropped directly into the midst of Putin's forces in Crimea and massing on the border areas should do the trick! Otherwise the only message sent to him is that the Western allies are a bunch of wimps! Economic sanctions don't work! In the world of "Bully" politics what works is force or at least the knowledge that force is an available option! Right now, no one really believes that the US and it's allies will stand up to the likes of Putin. He is not ready for a war with the west and will back down if confronted. Otherwise he will continue to push so long as he can get away with it. Time to push back!

    March 15, 2014 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
  21. Chuck

    First,McCain paling around with terrorists in Syria. Now, he's paling around with ultra nationalist fascists who just carried out a violent coup.

    March 15, 2014 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
  22. Brian Smith

    So US Military involvement in the Ukraine is 'decent' but not in Syria?

    March 15, 2014 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  23. steve

    Give diplomatic actions chance Senator McCain... no need to involve the military. Nothing wrong with our reputation..

    March 15, 2014 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  24. Ukraine

    Mr. McCaine's perception of the current fiscal state of Ukraine is quite inaccurate. After Mr. Yatsenyuk, a self-proclamed and self-appointed political adventurer, shipped the Gold Reserves of Ukraine including Scythians' Gold Art Collection on March 7, 2014 at or about 2:00 AM (Moscow Standard Time) to only-he-know-where, Ukraine is BROKE, and even beyond this point. So, how Mr. McCaine's supposed to be paid off by broken Ukraine for his proposed aid? Besides, why Mr. Yatsenyuk did not collected opinions of 47M Ukrainians, including myself, on such a drastic step in the history of my beloved country? What's going on?!!

    March 15, 2014 11:51 pm at 11:51 pm |
  25. larry David

    Why no military action against Istael for what they did to the crewmen of the USS Liberty?

    March 15, 2014 11:54 pm at 11:54 pm |
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