Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, described the Obama administration’s decision not to arm Ukraine as shameful, adding that Russian President Vladimir Putin has “paid very little price for his aggression” toward Ukraine.
“We are writing one of the most shameful chapters in American history. It has been an American tradition to help people who are struggling to repel invaders, to repel people who are dismembering their countries and are slaughtering their citizens. Vladimir Putin is doing all of that and more,” McCain said at the American Action Forum.
“For the first time in 70 years, the liberal world order that was established after World War II is now being broken with the dismemberment of Ukraine by Vladimir Putin and our failure to provide defensive weapons to Ukraine is shameful, and I’m frankly deeply embarrassed.”
McCain said he has predicted everything Putin has done up to this point, adding that there is no doubt he is preparing further aggression in eastern Ukraine.
“No one even talks about Crimea, a part of Ukraine that was guaranteed in the Budapest agreement when Ukraine gave up their nuclear inventory and specific in that agreement was a guarantee that Crimea would be part of Ukraine, nobody talks about that anymore,” he said.
“No one talks about the shootdown of a Malaysian airliner, which was obviously done with Russian equipment at least, if not by Russian individuals, and there’s routine violation of the Minsk agreements.”
McCain, a member of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, said there is “no doubt” Putin has “paid very little price for his aggression,” calling Ukraine’s situation heartbreaking.
“Frankly, it’s heartbreaking to see these brave young Ukrainians sacrifice their lives in a very unequal conflict when we refuse to give them weapons with which to defend themselves,” he said.
McCain noted that the defense authorization bill approves defensive weapons for Ukraine.
“But I have to be very frank, I see no indication that the president of the United States would agree to such a move to our everlasting shame,” he said.
Addressing the Islamic State’s (ISIS) actions in Iraq, McCain said unless Sunni and Shia unite, the situation becomes even more challenging for the U.S.
“We need more American boots on the ground and I’m happy to say that there’s recent polling data because of the beheadings and other activities that a majority of Americans now support not a massive influx of American troops, but American boots on the ground,” he said.
According to McCain, there is no way to identify targets in the region for airstrikes.
“Seventy-five percent of the combat missions flown today over Iraq and Syria return fully loaded because there’s nobody there to identify the targets on the ground,” he said.
McCain compared the current situation in Iraq and Syria to the Vietnam War.
“It’s reminiscent of a long time ago and far away during the Vietnam War where we conducted a similar kind of air activities under Robert Strange McNamara,” he said. “And there’s no strategy. If anyone in the administration can explain a strategy I would like to hear it – there is none.”
McCain also expressed concern about the outcome of the U.S. negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program.
He said the Obama administration is operating under the “illusion” that the U.S. would be able to work with Iran to bring about a peaceful Middle East.
“This administration is so desperate for an agreement that they will agree to almost anything,” he said. “I’m deeply worried they will make an agreement that is very badly flawed.”