Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ), Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, today released the following statement on the Russia-Ukraine ceasefire agreement:
“The agreement reached in Minsk freezes the conflict at a time of separatist advantage, solidifies the gains of Russian aggression, and leaves Ukraine’s border with Russia firmly under Moscow’s control pending a comprehensive political settlement whose content is unknown and feasibility is unclear.
“Vladimir Putin must be very pleased with this deal. By changing the military facts on the ground, he has succeeded in forcing a discussion of truce lines inside Ukraine’s territory, rather than the only line that truly matters – the Ukrainian border he violated.
“The last ceasefire required pulling heavy weapons back from the line of contact. Russia never complied. The new ceasefire contains a similar requirement. There is no reason to believe the result will be any different this time. Under the last ceasefire, Russian-backed separatists attacked and captured the Donetsk airport. I fear under this ceasefire, they will attack and capture the port of Mariupol.
“If nothing else comes from this deal, I hope the ceasefire – however temporary it may prove to be – will spare innocent Ukrainian lives. And I continue to hope for a political solution that restores Ukraine’s sovereign territory and the right to determine its own political and economic future. But such a solution will never be achieved through concessions to Vladimir Putin’s imperial ambitions.
“Deals such as these can only succeed when all sides truly desire peace. But it is abundantly clear that Vladimir Putin is committed to conflict. The very night Putin was negotiating a peace agreement, 50 tanks, 40 missile systems, and 40 armored vehicles crossed from Russia into Ukraine.
“Some will use this deal as excuse to delay sending defensive lethal assistance to Ukraine. But as long as Vladimir Putin negotiates peace while sending in tanks, that need still exists. As a wide range of national security experts and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have concluded, providing defensive lethal assistance to Ukraine is not inconsistent with the search for a political solution, it is an essential component to achieving it. Nothing about this deal has changed that.”