McCain, Obama Team Agree: No Realistic Military Option on Ukraine

But the Republican faults the president’s foreign policy for the newly emboldened Putin.

Ukrainian soldiers (behind) stand inside the gate of a Ukrainian military base as unidentified heavily-armed soldiers stand outside in Crimea on March 3, 2014 in Perevalne, Ukraine.
National Journal
Jordain Carney
Add to Briefcase
Jordain Carney
March 3, 2014, 8:11 a.m.

Mil­it­ary op­tions are off the table for the United States as it looks to counter Rus­sia’s mil­it­ary oc­cu­pa­tion of Crimea, Sen. John Mc­Cain said on Monday.

“There is not a mil­it­ary op­tion that can be ex­er­cised now,” the Ari­zona Re­pub­lic­an said, but he stressed that the United States should still have a wide vari­ety of op­tions in­clud­ing eco­nom­ic sanc­tions and tar­get­ing in­di­vidu­als re­spons­ible for the in­va­sion.

His com­ments, which came at the an­nu­al Amer­ic­an Is­rael Pub­lic Af­fairs Com­mit­tee policy con­fer­ence, echoed those from a trio of ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials on Sunday.

“Right now, I think we are fo­cused on polit­ic­al and eco­nom­ic and dip­lo­mat­ic op­tions…. So we have not — and, frankly, our goal is to up­hold the ter­rit­ori­al in­teg­rity and sov­er­eignty of Ukraine, not to have a mil­it­ary es­cal­a­tion,” a seni­or ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cial said, when asked if the United States is cur­rently con­sid­er­ing mil­it­ary op­tions as part of its re­sponse.

An­oth­er seni­or ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cial ad­ded that get­ting the mil­it­ary in­volved wouldn’t help de-es­cal­ate the situ­ation.

The United States, in co­ordin­a­tion with NATO and European Uni­on al­lies, is con­sid­er­ing a range of oth­er op­tions, the of­fi­cials said. Those could in­clude “isol­a­tion, po­ten­tial sanc­tions, and re­la­tion­ships between Rus­sia and in­ter­na­tion­al in­sti­tu­tions.”

But while Mc­Cain doesn’t be­lieve Pres­id­ent Obama has mil­it­ary op­tions, he does think the White House shoulders some blame for Rus­sia’s bold moves in Crimea.

“This is the ul­ti­mate res­ult of a feck­less for­eign policy where nobody be­lieves in Amer­ica’s strength any­more,” Mc­Cain said.

Obama spoke with Rus­si­an Pres­id­ent Vladi­mir Putin over the week­end, and Vice Pres­id­ent Joe Biden spoke with Rus­si­an Prime Min­is­ter Dmitry Med­ve­dev on Monday.

What dir­ect im­pact those talks are hav­ing is murky. U.S. of­fi­cials have re­peatedly called on Rus­sia to draw back its forces, but Ukraine said on Monday that Rus­sia is call­ing on the crews of two Ukrain­i­an war­ships to sur­render or face at­tack. Rus­si­an of­fi­cials have denied mak­ing that threat.

State De­part­ment spokes­wo­man Jen Psaki said Monday that if the re­ports are true, it would con­sti­tute a “dan­ger­ous es­cal­a­tion of the situ­ation, for which we would hold Rus­sia dir­ectly re­spons­ible.”

The U.N. Se­cur­ity Coun­cil is sched­uled to hold an emer­gency meet­ing Monday af­ter­noon on Ukraine.

And Mc­Cain on Monday stressed that the situ­ation in Ukraine is also tied to cur­rent ne­go­ti­ations in the Middle East, in­clud­ing those over Ir­an’s nuc­le­ar pro­gram and the Syr­i­an chem­ic­al weapons deal. U.S. and Rus­si­an of­fi­cials have worked to­geth­er on both fronts.

Mc­Cain ad­ded: “The pres­id­ent of the United States be­lieves that the Cold War is over, and that’s fine if it is over, but Putin doesn’t be­lieve its over. He doesn’t be­lieve that this is a zero-sum game.”

What We're Following See More »
HIGHLIGHT ISSUES FACING KIDS
FLOTUS to Speak at UN Luncheon
20 hours ago
THE LATEST
PRESSES CASE FOR REFORMS
Trump Meets with UN Leaders
1 days ago
THE LATEST

President Trump on Tuesday night met with UN Secretary Guterres and President of the General Assembly Miroslav Lajcak. In both cases, as per releases from the White House, Trump pressed them on the need to reform the UN bureaucracy.

AT U.N. TRUMP CALLS NUCLEAR DEAL AN “EMBARRASSMENT”
New Iran Policy Coming Next Month?
1 days ago
THE LATEST
“MASSIVE SOURCE OF EMBARRASSMENT”
Trump Calls Out U.N. Members for Human Rights Violations
1 days ago
THE LATEST
LEVELS AN IMPLICIT THREAT AT NORTH KOREA
Trump Calls Kim “Rocket Man” at U.N.
1 days ago
THE LATEST
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login