Congress passed the USD 350m Ukraine Freedom Support Act late December 2014
US Senator John McCain has claimed Washington is allowing Ukrainian soldiers are being ‘slaughtered’ by Russian military equipment, so not to provoke a confrontation with Vladimir Putin. The Republican lawmaker made the remarks at a meeting of the Senate Armed Services Committee, a powerful organisation in Congress that oversees military and defence policymaking. McCain used his position as chairman to justify his argument to provide weapons to Ukrainian forces.
John McCain, US Senator: “This idea that somehow we will provoke Vladimir Putin – he’s done everything he wanted to do, General. You tell me what he didn’t want to do that he would have done if we had provided these people with the ability to defend themselves rather than be slaughtered by the most modern equipment that the Russians have.”
In response, Major General Vincent Stewart explained that any efforts by Washington to arm Ukraine would be made redundant by Russia, who has significant advantages compared to the US.
Vincent Stewart, Marine Forces Cyber Command: “So it would be a race to see who could arm and I think with their interior lines they would have a significant advantage on the ground.”
John McCain, US Senator: “I am sure that the Russians had a significant advantage when they invaded Afghanistan. I am sure that throughout history when we’ve helped people who have been invaded and oppressed and when we haven’t what the consequences have been. Very disappointing, General.”
In the same meeting, the US spy chief James Clipper said Moscow still aimed to secure a land corridor between Russia and Crimea by capturing Mariupol – although they would wait until spring to attack.
The White House has deliberated for months on whether to arm Ukraine. Obama has the choice either to go with public opinion or hold off from potentially fuelling the flames of the conflict in Ukraine, that’s already claimed thousands of lives. Late last December, both the US House and Senate passed the Ukraine Freedom Support Act, paving the way for USD 350 million in lethal and nonlethal military assistance; a rare agreement in the usually divided Congress, although a decision on lethal aid has yet to be made.