According to AFP, former US presidential contender and outspoken Kremlin critic John McCain (R-AZ) warned on Thursday (September 4) that Western allies risked leaving behind a "landlocked Ukraine" unless they provided Kiev with weapons to fend off Russia.
President Vladimir Putin had pushed 4,000 troops and a vast quantity of tanks across the border to help separatist fighters in Ukraine establish a land-link with the Crimea peninsula which Moscow seized from Kiev in March 2014.
"Putin's appetite only grows with the eating," McCain told reporters on his fourth visit to Kiev since the February ouster of a Russian-backed leader and rise to power of a new pro-Western team.
McCain urged US President Barack Obama "and the world...to urgently provide defensive weapons (and) intelligence" to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko so he could preserve the unity of the ex-Soviet state.
COMMENT: President Poroshenko is expected to order a cease-fire if his envoys and rebel leaders sign a Kremlin-backed peace plan on Friday (September 5) that aims to halt nearly five months of bloodshed, but leaves the political status of the Crimea unresolved.
The Kremlin denies playing any role in a recent counter-offensive that has seen the insurgents and the Russian Army seize a large stretch of Ukraine's southeastern coast along the Sea of Azov linking Russia with Crimea.
A failure to supply Poroshenko's forces with weapons "eventually could lead to a landlocked Ukraine," McCain cautioned.
A seven-point blueprint unveiled by Putin calls for a halt to "offensive operations" by both sides and for Ukrainian forces to retreat from major rebel strongholds such as the cities of Lugansk and Donetsk.
Poroshenko's critics in Parliament and the Ukrainian media have branded the peace plan a disguise for Kiev's surrender and urged him to reject the pact.
Yet, the embattled Ukrainian leader said on the sidelines of a NATO summit in Wales on Thursday (September 4) that it was "very important" for all sides to agree to a comprehensive truce.
Yet, as noted in my September 3 posting, I made reference to the fact that Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk REJECTED a cease-fire plan unveiled by Russian President Vladimir Putin as an attempt to deceive the West and NATO about Moscow's actual intentions!
McCain accused Putin of trying to leave the status of Ukraine's east uncertain for the immediate future--a threat that would bar NATO from reviewing Kiev's expected membership request under its current rules.
"What Vladimir Putin would like to see is a frozen conflict," McCain said in reference to other lingering post-Soviet territorial disputes in countries such as Georgia and Moldova.