Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) are asking the Obama administration to supply Ukraine with anti-tank weapons that could be used for defensive purposes against Russian separatists.
“President [Vladimir] Putin, undeterred by international condemnation, has provided heavy weapons to separatists, including tracked and armored vehicles and the advanced missile and radar systems that took down MH-17,” the two senators wrote to President Barack Obama.
“In light of these developments, we should supply the Ukrainian military with appropriate defensive weapons such as anti-tank weapons to help them reclaim their territory,” they added. “This will help permit the Ukrainian government to address the worsening humanitarian crisis in eastern Ukraine’s rebel-controlled territories.”
The senators said the U.S. needs to share intelligence with Ukraine to help it counter rebel forces in the country that are being supported by Russia.
In recent weeks, speculation has risen that Russia may be preparing to attack Ukraine directly, given the movement of troops and equipment along the border of the two countries. Some have interpreted those movements as intimidation tactics.
On Friday morning, reports surfaced that Ukraine has destroyed part of a column of Russian tanks. Russia said the Ukrainian action was preventing aid from reaching eastern Ukraine.
McCain and Donnelly noted that the Secretary General of NATO has said there is a “high probability” of a Russian invasion. They added that the shooting down of a Malaysian civilian craft — apparently by pro-Russia separatists with Russian military equipment — shows Russia has “no qualms about violating Ukrainian sovereignty.”
“We must stand decisively in support of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” they wrote. “The future of Ukraine should be determined in Kiev, not Moscow.”