The White House has been hesitant to describe the situation in Ukraine as a Russian invasion, but Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) thinks there’s no other way to describe what’s happening.
McCain even said he looked up the definition of the word in the dictionary. He held a press conference in Ukraine on Thursday to make that very point.
“Before coming here, I looked at a definition for the word invasion. It is as follows: ‘an incursion by a large number of people or things into a place … an unwelcome intrusion into another’s domain,'” McCain said, according to a transcript from his office.
Despite their reluctance to use the word, U.S. officials have repeatedly criticised Russia for using softer terms like “incursion.” In a Wednesday interview with CNN, Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel dismissed the language debate.
“Well, there are Russians in Ukraine, Russian military, Russian military equipment in Ukraine. You can define it any way you want,” he said. “That’s not my role.”
However, McCain argued that any refusal to call it an “invasion” meant the U.S. was accepting Russian President Vladimir Putin’s worldview. Putin has denied any military involvement in eastern Ukraine despite a preponderance of evidence suggesting Russian is, at the very least, providing arms to the separatists at war with the Ukrainian government.
“Now, if we in the West cannot say clearly that what Vladimir Putin is doing to Ukraine constitutes an invasion of a sovereign country — if we obfuscate this truth because we refuse to face it — then we are living in Putin’s world,” McCain said. “Just as an invasion is an invasion, our world either has rules, or it does not. It is either organised around principles of justice, or it is not.”
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