August 12th, 2008
11:00 AM ET
3 years ago

McCain: Putin wants 'to restore the old Russian empire'

McCain sharpened his criticism of Putin Tuesday.
McCain sharpened his criticism of Putin Tuesday.

HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania (CNN) – John McCain is turning up the heat on Moscow, and accusing Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin of wanting to “restore the old Russian empire.”

McCain’s comments came in an interview with Harrisburg public radio WITF, in which he hammered Putin for continuing to wield power since leaving the presidency behind earlier this year and installing his hand-picked successor, Dmitry Medvedev.

Watch: McCain says 'we are all Georgians'

“I don’t think there’s any doubt who is still by far the most powerful and influential person in Russia,” McCain said, arguing that Putin’s “personal control” of the military “indicates his position of power.”

“Of course we have to deal with Russia and we deal with Putin,” McCain said. “But it has to be on a very realistic basis. And not one that there’s any illusions about his ambitions.”

Watch: McCain condemns Russia

He then accused Putin of wanting to restore Russia to the days of czardom, when a monarchy exerted broad control over parts of Asia and eastern Europe.

“I think it’s very clear that Russian ambitions are to restore the old Russian Empire,” he said. “Not the Soviet Union, but the Russian Empire.”


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soundoff (315 Responses)
  1. ron

    This old man should check himself before he wrecks himself, he might get so worked up over the election that he expires before November 4., Standing in front of two American flags issuing ultimatums, I believe he forgot that he's only a lowly senator and does not speak for this country., hust as a POW when he read his captors prepared statements to the cameras, he was not speaking for america then either, the only US prisoner to do such a thing. war hero or imprisoned with the true war heros. This man is not above lying with a straight face, give him the power and we'll be at war with him telling us"my friends I hate war". He needs to retire to a home where he can get his cognitive issues treated.

    August 12, 2008 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  2. pat C.

    i wonder if McCain the war munger learned how to pronounce the names of all the leaders he is bashing. this old fool wants a war somewhere so bad he can't stand it. god help this country if we americans let him near our whitehouse. we are to blame if this idiot gets voted in office and what consequences we will have.
    this just helps him not have to talk about all the jobs that have been lossed and the economy going down the tubes. but he is in hog heaven right now he is talking war and more war. even what he says is soooo old and lame. he could not back up a plan if the old man had one. i am sure he does not understand how a 21st century war will be fought, he can't use a computer so he will have to be briefed by pen and paper. how backwards is that?

    August 12, 2008 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  3. Becky Montgomery

    All hot air from McCain. IF we did need to militarily confront someone, HOW would we do that with our forces already stretched so tightly that people are doing extra and extended tours of duty?

    His only comfort zone is war. He is wanting to keep fighting Viet Name until he gets it right. Not going to happen.

    Let's not get into a situation where we have to reinstitute the draft so a man who is experiencing personality changes and reduced mental capacities can play war games.

    War should be the LAST option. Obama knows that.

    August 12, 2008 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  4. FLA Voter

    becky–"McBush's stupid war in Iraq…This is why you use force as a LAST RESORT because now we have played our cards exposing the neo-cons bluff. "

    One thing my President is named Bush not McBush, Idiot!!

    Second thing you don't even know what neo-con means, so stop using it.

    Third thing the Iraq war was absolutely justified by the world and by your precious Democratic party. So stop claiming that Bush "wanted" war.

    If you want to claim that McCain is the same as Bush, fine but do it with substance not hearsay. In fact McCain is "disliked" by many Republicans because he disagreed with Bush more often than not.

    Bring it on!!!

    Public Speaker 08-12!!!

    August 12, 2008 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  5. Greg - Mpls

    What regrettable circumstances. If we had not tortured, killed civilians , and started a pre-emptive war we would be in a position to chastise Russia. Now we are a joke on the world stage, and cannot profess to take the high road. Thanks Neocons!

    August 12, 2008 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  6. Cheri

    It sounds to me like John McCain wants to start another war.What a war monger he is.

    August 12, 2008 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  7. Anonymous

    OBAMA WILL BE THE BEGINING OF WORLD WAR111 IF ELECTED. NOSTRADUMAS PREDICTS THIS IN HIS BOOK THE CODE WORLD WAR 111. YOU O.B. FOLLOWERS ARE JUST AS LOST MINDED AS HIM. AMERICA GETS WHAT THEY ASK FOR.

    August 12, 2008 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  8. jimmy

    Is Russian now going to occupy South Ossetia and Gori , two Georgian provinces? With overwhelming forces, the Russian Bear desdended on the Georgian province without provocation, ostensibly to "protect"Russian citizens. What the heck? Will they
    now invade an independent country because it has a minority
    Russian Citizens.
    If they permanently occupy those provinces and the Western Powers
    allow them to do that, I will be History repeating itself. IT is called APPEASEMENT. Remember how the predeccesor of Winston Churchill , tried to appease Hitler ? well , it only whetted Hitler's appetite and it led to World War II.

    August 12, 2008 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  9. Marty Pacino Chicago Il

    Seriously the democrats are really showing ignorance on this issue. Russia attacks a free sovereign nation in Georgia and now we label McCain a war monger? If the world were left up to the liberal left communism would have taken over years ago. Go see what's happening to the people of Georgia right now. You think they deserve what is happening to their land? A declaration of war by Russia on Georgia is a declaration of war against all freedom loving people. If you people want to take your freedom for granted than go live in a dictatorship or a communist regime. See what happens to you in those nations when you try to think for yourself. The United States needs to remind Russia how fast we will put their country in check. General Jack Lemay will be rolling in his grave right now. I wish they would of took his advice as beat Russia to a pulp when we had the advantage soon it will be too late.

    McCain/Romney 2008

    August 12, 2008 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  10. thorny

    Is it possible that a presidential candidate touted as an "expert" on world affairs could be so misinformed on not only who benefits most the oil from the Caspian Sea via the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (it sure isn't the U.S.) but about the breakaway efforts from Georgia of South Ossetia (a territory in dispute for years) as well as the Russian fears of NATO sitting on its borders? Too bad, he just might get elected if he can sell enough voters that Russia is the "boogyman", and then will we be in for it!!!

    August 12, 2008 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  11. Vigla

    Old Man McCain, the cold war is over! I'm not going to let you single handedly re-start it so you can further your political career...

    People, please stop believeing this guy has any credibility on foreign affairs. He's trying to fool everyone.

    The right approach with Russia is to understand their position and compromise. Russia wants to defend itself just like we do. Why is Russia's invasion of Georgia any different than our invasion of Iraq? We showed them the way, didn't we? I'm tired of this nonsense.

    We need to stop antagonizing the Russians and work with them to better both our nations. Reduce or eliminate nuclear weapons, work together on captuing and eliminating terror. These are things we share.

    Being divisive is a clear sign that McCain does not have the temprament to be President of the US. He's just an angry guy and he'll take it out on other nations to prove it.

    Please elect a sensible person to be President ...OBAMA 08!

    August 12, 2008 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  12. Sue/PA

    Russia is not to be trusted.............that pretty much goes without saying.....but............

    McCain, you do not have a clue to Russias intentions. The EU doesnt even "speculate" about Russias intentions. Our (including the EU) first and foremost obligation was to demand Russia stand down and return all air and ground troops back to russian territory.

    To speculate is to esculate.

    McCain needs to stop speculating....we are not strong enough for another war, our resources are way beyond depletion, thanks to the policies of Bush/Cheney/McCain.

    August 12, 2008 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  13. Keating Five

    Remember the Keating Five!!!! McCain started his career by lying, stealing, and claiming ignorance. He WILL continue to do just that on a grander scale with more power.

    August 12, 2008 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  14. Young and Informed

    To all of you that say the U.S. is being a hyprocrite because we invaded Iraq:

    Do you not see a different between invading a dictatorship and democracy? Disagree with the War in Iraq, but acknowledge this is like comparing apples and oranges.

    To those saying McCain thinks we can save everybody:

    Have you not been paying attention to Obama? He wants to use words and handouts to save EVERYONE. Looks to me like both have similar views, just different paths.

    We are not going to enter WWIII. Read some well-rounded articles on Russia, and you'll see that soft power cannot be effective in dealing with them.

    August 12, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  15. wilfred

    All you liberals just turn the other cheek . Osama Hussein Obama would just talk to tyrants , and walk softly and not use the big stick.
    Hillary Clinton is more of a candidate , and would stand up to the
    ruski's

    August 12, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  16. Dave, Illinois

    What a suprise! More simple-minded posts from Obamites spouting the same old tired "Mc" isms and warmongering rants. Really, do any of you that post these try to gain any perspective on the subject by at least doing a Google search before you spout? I have come to the conclusion that many of these posts are automated and come from some server at Obama election headquarters.

    For those that care, do a Google search with the following terms:
    Putin KGB
    Russia oil
    Cold War peace through strength

    August 12, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  17. Erin in Edmonds WA

    McCain is as stupid as he is ugly, and is clueless on foreign affairs. Does he really think that Putin will bow to his will just because he said what they did is bad. This is almost as pitiful as George Bush condemming Russian's actions. Putin doesn't listen to him either, and I'm sure he laughs everytime Bush opens his mouth. If McCain gets elected, Putin would laugh at him too, and probably yawn in his face.

    Note to McStupid, it's not a good idea to ruffle the feathers of a Russian leader who was once the most powerful man in the KGB. Stupid, demonic Republicans–and that includes Bush and McCain supporters–they are the truly arrogant ones if they think anyone in the world will listen to them. When you look at polls of foreigners, 80 – 90% of them would rather sit down with Obama than these tired old stupid flatulating republicans.

    August 12, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  18. lookinthemirror

    i can't wait to be drafted.

    August 12, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  19. Johny

    Come on CNN. Why do you continue to post comments that have nothing to do with the story? Could you at least provide some of these morons a spell checker. I know little kids can spell better than most of these morons that comment on here.

    August 12, 2008 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  20. Robert

    As usual, here comes good old John McSame with his fast draw...Act now, ask questions later (then forget the answers). He's so uninformed that he makes Bush look semi-intelligent – and that's pretty hard to do. Georgia's leader is nothing more than a gangster who pretends to love democracy & freedom. The Bush administration falls for that one hook, line & sinker because it suits their purposes. Georgia has oil. Everyone has gotten on the 'bash big bad Russia/Putin' bandwagon. Nothing about how Georgia has been terrorizing its own people and neighboring states. It would be so refreshing if just one branch of media actually reported facts instead of opinions based on partisan crap.

    August 12, 2008 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  21. Frances

    It seems like 90% of the postings at CNN are Obamaphiles.

    Don't you bitter people have jobs??

    August 12, 2008 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  22. FL4Obama

    McCain seems to espouse too many antiquated ideas that have caused so many problems when approaching foreign policy from positions similar to the past eight years of the Bush administration. Dealing with Russia/Georgia in a constructive manner will require unified efforts through our relations with the European nations.

    When comparing the two candidates, I honestly feel Obama offers the diplomatic appeal needed to strengthen these relations, as demonstrated by the warm reception Obama received from leaders when traveling abroad. His potential seemed reminiscent of Reagan's diplomatic achievements in this area. Obama '08

    August 12, 2008 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  23. Patrick

    Quit trying to compare our wary in Iraq and what Russia is doing. We overthrow dictator and tried to build a democracy and help the people of Iraq. Russia is trying to overthrow an elected democracy and isn't trying to help the Georgian people. It's disgusting you'd even try to compare the two wars.

    McCain is right all the way. The people who are criticizing him are the same people who don't care what happens to the rest of the world. The only care about the US, how selfish.

    August 12, 2008 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  24. Andy in Charlotte, NC

    But American imperialism is ok? We have military bases in over 100 countries around the world and want to put up missile defense shields in Europe, and we are the only country to have used nuclear weapons.

    August 12, 2008 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  25. anonymous

    I think the candidates need to stay out of this, neither one of them are the US PRESIDENT yet. This is President Bush decision to make suggestions to Russia. If that is the case, then any American person could tell the world what to do. What gives with these 2 candidates they are trying to be president already. Yes, there opinions do matter but make the suggestions to the US President. What is this world coming to?

    August 12, 2008 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
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