Durbin, McCain: Send weapons to Ukraine

A pair of senators, including a close ally to President Obama, is calling on the White House to send arms to Ukraine.

Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), currently visiting Ukraine, said the U.S. should supply the poorly outfitted Ukrainian military with weapons and other military equipment.

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“They only have a few thousand combat troops and would be overwhelmed by the Russians if it came to that. One of their urgent requests is to have us supply them with weapons,” McCain said, according to the Kyiv Post. “I will be urging our administration to arrange that transfer as quickly as possible."

Durbin agreed, saying the nation’s small army had been “hollowed out” by the ousted president, Viktor Yanukovych.

“Time and again, they asked us for military help. They need it. I think they should have it. They have to have the wherewithal to defend themselves,” he said.

Durbin and McCain are two of eight senators who have traveled to Ukraine to visit the nation following its political upheaval. The installation of a new government following public protests that resulted in more than 100 deaths of demonstrators has led to new global political tension. The U.S. has harshly criticized the Russian military for making advances in eastern Ukraine, and Crimea, the Russian-speaking region of Ukraine, is poised to vote Sunday on seceding from the nation and joining Russia.

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), also on the trip, was more skeptical of lending U.S. military might to Ukrainian troops.

"There is no military solution, there's only political solution," he said. "Given the pitiful state of readiness within the Ukrainian military, I think it's important to be careful about approving these requests."

The senators made the journey as legislation to provide aid to Ukraine has been bogged down in Congress. The two parties have been unable to advance such legislation, as some Republicans have protested the inclusion of a provision that would authorize some reforms to the International Monetary Fund that the administration has long supported.