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McCain blasts White House over report US denied Ukraine military aid request

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Mar. 5, 2014: Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., questions Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Capitol Hill in Washington.AP

Republican Sen. John McCain is blasting the Obama administration after a report claimed the White House is denying the Ukrainian government’s request for military aid.

The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that the Obama administration declined the request for arms, ammunition and intelligence support over concerns that doing so would increase tensions with Russia. The Pentagon is wary of showing Russia it is directly supporting the Ukraine military, according to the newspaper.

Officials told the Wall Street Journal the U.S. is engaged in a delicate balancing act of supporting Ukraine’s interim government while also attempting to not further antagonize Russia. They did not rule out future military support.

"It's not a forever 'no,' it's a 'no for now,'" a senior U.S. official told the Wall Street Journal.

McCain said in a statement Thursday he found the administration’s reluctance to provide the support to Ukraine “deeply disturbing,” saying the U.S. should not be “imposing an arms embargo on a victim of aggression.”

 “Now is the time to show the Ukrainian government and people that the United States stands with them in their hour of greatest need,” he said.

The report comes after President Obama, in a diplomatic snub at Russia, met Wednesday with Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk at the White House.

Sitting side by side in the Oval Office with Yatsenyuk, Obama said he hoped last-ditch diplomatic efforts might lead to a "rethinking" of Sunday's referendum on whether Crimea should join Russia. If the vote does occur, Obama said, "We will not recognize any referendum that goes forward."

Yatsenyuk told the U.N. Security Council on Thursday he is convinced Russians don't want war, and urged Russia's leaders to heed the people's wishes and return to dialogue with Ukraine.