June 25th, 2013
08:05 AM ET
1 year ago

McCain: Time to get tough with Putin

(CNN) – The time for gentle diplomacy with Russia's President Vladimir Putin has passed, Sen. John McCain asserted in an interview Tuesday.

Calling the Russian leader an "old KGB colonel apparatchik that dreams of the days of the Russian empire," McCain said on CNN's "New Day" the U.S. should take a tougher position with Putin, who has also opposed western plans to arm rebels battling Syria's President Bashar al-Assad.

"We've got to start dealing with Vladimir Putin in a realistic fashion," McCain told Chris Cuomo.

The most recent break in the U.S.-Russia relationship came Sunday, when it's believed NSA leaker Edward Snowden flew from Hong Kong to Moscow as he avoids apprehension on U.S. espionage charges.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov claimed at a news conference Tuesday his country has "nothing to do with Mr. Snowden, or his movements around the world," and that accusations against Russia over harboring Snowden are "absolutely groundless and unacceptable."

Those remarks did little to placate McCain, who countered it was "well known" that Snowden is in Russia.

"It's reminiscent of the days of the Cold War when you hear a Russian spokesman saying that he's not in Russia, when every shred of evidence indicates that he is," said the Arizona Republican and 2008 GOP presidential nominee, who also faulted President Barack Obama for not taking a firmer line with Russia on Syria and Iran.

"When you withdraw to fortress America, when you believe in light footprints, when you show the world you're leading from behind, these are the consequences of American leadership," McCain said, adding "That does not mean confrontation, but steadfast adherence to the principles many presidents since the Cold War and before have stood for that the rest of the world will respect."

As for Putin, McCain said there were deeper problems entrenched in the Russian leader's outlook on the world.

Putin "has disdain for democracy and the things we stand for and believe in," McCain said, before referencing the allegation from last week that Putin stole a Super Bowl ring from the owner of the New England Patriots (Putin's spokesman later said it was a gift).

"If he sees a situation he'll take advantage of it. Anybody that takes somebody's Super Bowl ring has got to be not exactly like us," he said.


Filed under: John McCain • Russia
soundoff (586 Responses)
  1. d

    1. Of all the candidates mccain could have picked for v.p. – he choose palin...nuff said....this should disqualify him from giving an opinion on any substantive area
    2. While running for president – he basically reversed most of his positions he took as a senator....
    3. Specifics – what specific steps can the u.s. take with any major/important country to make them act in a way the don't want to? talk is cheap, we can't simply make other countries do something they don't want to do...

    June 25, 2013 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  2. edward_s

    for people who say noone takes him seriously then vote him out. He is a good example of why we need term llimits, He and Reid both can retire and bring in new point of views. They are hindering their respected political parties.

    June 25, 2013 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  3. sasss31

    Senator McCain is right on money. Thank you Senator.

    June 25, 2013 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  4. sasss31

    Senator McCain is right on money. Thank you John McCain for standing on the right side of history.

    June 25, 2013 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  5. sasss31

    I personally think one of President Obama's greatest weaknesses is that he is not a forceful leader and that he always leads from behind and not many fear him. The same couldn't be said of Bush. Bush always got things done whether on domestic policy or foreign policy because people knew that Bush wasn't a leader to be pushed around. This can be an asset for Obama in him being contemplative but on the other hand the signal he more often than not sends out is one of weakness.

    June 25, 2013 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  6. EDDIE

    If he wants to get tough on Putin I suggest Gas-X.

    June 25, 2013 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  7. sam adler

    US does not have the resources or the expertise to fool us all that it is capable of subduing others to our will. Look around us and see how we blundered everywhere else. After a 12 years of costly wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, US is trying to build bridges with the enemies and to hell with Karazi and the billions spend on him and his gang!
    US, mind your business!

    June 25, 2013 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  8. Galactus93

    How about we get tough on illegal aliens instead of granting them Amnesty? McCain is an old man who can't even remember that we tried Amnesty in 1986 and it did not work. He just wants to relive the glory days when Russia and the United States were Cold War rivals. He really needs to be put in a home.

    June 25, 2013 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  9. Martin

    Russia has NO extradition treaty with the United States. There should be zero impact from any decision to either help or hinder Mr Snowden.

    While diplomatic niceties say that they should arrest Mr Snowden and send him to the USA, they are not obligated to do this under international law.

    Of course, the next time the Russians try and get the USA or UK to send them a Russian Mafia Boss under extradition, they'll be laughed at.

    June 25, 2013 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  10. Hamburger Jones

    Go home, Grampaw. Let the young people who know what day it is handle this.

    June 25, 2013 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  11. an oregonian

    Steveo,

    "For the record, last I heard the seals killed UBL and those fools on a boat. The Lybians killed Kaddafi..."

    You do realize that Obama had to give the order to move in on Bin Laden, right? And that presidents of the past who have been in office (and given orders) to take out violent enemies of the USA have taken credit (and been given credit) for these accomplishments, right? You are the most typical kind of republican. And god knows that if GWB had given the order to take out Bin Laden, you republican talking heads would be giving him all the credit. Don't BS us; we all know it's true.

    I also happen to *personally* know the family of one of the SEALs killed in the Libyan embassy last year and they believe that this administration is doing everything it can with that situation, including acknowledging mistakes and using the situation to improve and ensure this never happens again. Stop using these tragic deaths as a political manipulation tool. People like you are exploiting the tragedy and it's disgusting.

    June 25, 2013 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  12. Marie MD

    @anonymous, the only thing the twit got right was his disdain for the 47%.
    McCain is an old warmonger who spent the Vietnam war as a POW for not following orders and now he wants to relive his days by sending other Amerians to their death in wars we should NEVER be involved in now or in the future.
    He has mt with kidnappers and human heart eaters. I guess that after what he did to the country by bringing forth the mutant from AK and her hate nothing he does is relevant.

    June 25, 2013 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  13. Paul

    Will that old idiot ever retire ???

    June 25, 2013 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  14. Carla

    Mc Cain the Manchurian Candidate , that wants to see blood is a man of low or no values, his first wife waited during the years he was a prisioner, nurse him when back, and when she was disable because of an accident , he cheated and left to marry a millionaire.
    He wants Americans to suffer what he did , he is hungry for wars.

    June 25, 2013 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  15. oluwabueze

    For me i will like Russia to accept swonden to seek assylum in moscow, many Russians are assylum seekers in britain and america and america is about losing his powers.
    Time has come for the whole world to understand that america is not perfect as he claim, allow the young man to say his mind and feelings, freedom of speech is for everybody and not for some only.

    June 25, 2013 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  16. anonymous

    Why doesn't McCain get tough on illegals and immigrants in general.

    June 25, 2013 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  17. Woody

    War makes a lot of people a lot of money . And makes a lot of the poor people dead . But we have Religion to fix it I guess ? We human mammals are one screwed up species . But then the wealthy got wealthy by keeping us that way !

    June 25, 2013 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  18. linda

    McCain is from the old school and we need to get him out of congress... Snowden is a hero in my book and our government is acting like hte KGB of old by wire tapping its own citizens in the name of "security" Thank goodness for Snowden!!! I wish him well and hope our government doesn't find him. I'm sure he would accidently get killed

    June 25, 2013 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  19. PAUL BELL

    When the war hawks get a certain age, they just want to go out with one huge WARGASM! No John, you lost. Stop trying to start a nuclear war.

    June 25, 2013 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  20. sonny chapman

    Thank God it was JFK handling the Cuban Missile Crisis & not a Mc Cain or a Lil W. listening to Bad Ass Cheney.

    June 25, 2013 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  21. Dano

    Is there no country that McCain is not eager to start awar with? Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Iran, even China & Russia, he says "bring em on"! Thank God the US voters were smart enough not elect this old fool when he finally got his chance.

    June 25, 2013 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  22. IvotedforObama

    So I guess this guy wants us to go to war with a country with nuclear weapons, a large air force and navy and can do significant damage to our country in a war.

    June 25, 2013 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  23. Bob

    What a sad little man. He tried to sell us Syria and now wants a new Cold War. Get him out of office..... along with his sidekick Obama.

    June 25, 2013 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  24. Steveo

    @an oregonian

    Steveo,

    "For the record, last I heard the seals killed UBL and those fools on a boat. The Lybians killed Kaddafi..."

    You do realize that Obama had to give the order to move in on Bin Laden, right? And that presidents of the past who have been in office (and given orders) to take out violent enemies of the USA have taken credit (and been given credit) for these accomplishments, right? You are the most typical kind of republican. And god knows that if GWB had given the order to take out Bin Laden, you republican talking heads would be giving him all the credit. Don't BS us; we all know it's true.

    I also happen to *personally* know the family of one of the SEALs killed in the Libyan embassy last year and they believe that this administration is doing everything it can with that situation, including acknowledging mistakes and using the situation to improve and ensure this never happens again. Stop using these tragic deaths as a political manipulation tool. People like you are exploiting the tragedy and it's disgusting.
    ------------------------
    Sorry but you have NOT addressed my comments. Read a little lower!
    My comments start at "PROBABLY" and is addressing Rudy's comment that McCain PROBABLY met with the folks who were involve in the Benghazi issue, while he was in Libya! You made an error! No worried though but read the next time!

    June 25, 2013 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  25. tet1953

    We are so fortunate that McCain never made it into the WH.

    June 25, 2013 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
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