McCain: Put Ukraine on track to join NATO

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Thursday said NATO should put Ukraine on a track for eventual membership and urged the U.S. to provide more military aid to Kiev.

“They want to be part of NATO,” said McCain at the New America Foundation's 2014 Conference. “There’s a long process, by the way. You don’t just accept membership. We could put them on a military assistance plan.

“We have military assistance plans with at least 50 countries. It would not be an earthshaking or new kind of thing to give these people some ability to defend themselves,” he added.

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McCain has pushed for the administration to provide military help to Kiev to help it counter pro-Russian separatist groups in the east of the country.

At the conference, he said it was "shameful" that the U.S. had not provided more aid, noting that Ukrainian troops lacked body armor, night vision capability and other weapons.

"It would help the morale enormously," McCain said. "Believe me, at some point Ukraine will fight.

“The people of Ukraine have a long history of fighting for their independence and they’re not going to sit idly by and watch Vladimir Putin invade their country," he continued.

McCain mocked the Obama administration for instead sending meals, ready-to-eat.

"You can't make this story up: After a heated debate in the White House, the administration decided they would send MREs," McCain said. "But someone said, 'Well, we don't want to fly them in U.S. aircraft because that might provoke Vladimir Putin.' So we leased German trucks to take the MREs in."

"I think now we should call it MRE diplomacy," McCain joked.