McCain questions resolve of Biden in Ukraine

Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainBiden falters in pledge to strengthen US alliances 20 years after 9/11, US foreign policy still struggles for balance What the chaos in Afghanistan can remind us about the importance of protecting democracy at home MORE (R-Ariz.) on Tuesday questioned the Obama administration's resolve to stop Russian from helping armed separatists in Eastern Ukraine. 

Earlier Tuesday, Vice President Biden called on Russia to stop supporting the pro-Russian groups that have taken over a number of government buildings in the eastern part of the country. 


"Or else what?" McCain asked after listening to Biden's remarks on MSNBC's "Morning Joe." "Or else what? What is the vice president saying, if they continue to do this, what will we do?"

McCain, who has called on the United States to offer light military weapons to Ukraine, said Russian President Vladimir Putin is keeping troops lined at the eastern border to evaluate his options. He warned the U.S. should not underestimate him.

McCain noted that only about two dozen officials and one bank have received travel and financial sanctions from the U.S. in response to Russia's annexation of Crimea earlier this year. 

Biden met with a number of officials in the country before calling on Russia to start acting to solidify a deal hashed out between the U.S., Russia, Ukraine and the European Union last week to calm the unrest. 

"No nation has the right to simply grab land from another nation," Biden said in remarks in Ukraine. "No nation has that right, and we will never recognize Russia's illegal occupation of Crimea and neither will the world. We call on Russia to stop supporting men hiding behind masks in unmarked uniforms sowing unrest in Eastern Ukraine." 

The Obama administration said it has readied further sanctions if Russia does not comply with the deal. 

He reiterated there should be no U.S. boots on the ground, but said the Obama administration should stop announcing that fact at every press conference. 

“Right now, it is time we said the people of Ukraine deserve free and fair elections, they deserve our support, and no one in America wants boots on the ground. I totally accept that … [But] can we go one press conference without saying that.”  

McCain also advocated for an accelerated process to get Ukraine into the European Union, as well as developing a plan so Ukraine is not reliant on Russian energy. 

The U.S. on Tuesday detailed a $50 million economic and energy package aimed at helping Ukraine's economy while Biden was in the country. The administration also detailed an $8 million package of non-lethal military assistance.