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. ForrayHey

    McCain is the man!!!!!!!!

    June 25, 2013 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  2. Justen

    To John McCain–you are a RINO. You are a traitorous individual who is undeserving of the freedom afforded to you by the Constitution and the men and women in military uniform, and the citizens both living and dead who fought to defend it from people like you.

    June 25, 2013 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  3. Mick

    What is wrong with this man. Is he not getting enough attention? Behaving like a baby rattling the cage.

    June 25, 2013 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  4. Shadow

    McCain. Pls stop talking.

    June 25, 2013 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  5. Anonymous

    He is right US should declare war on Russia. And Obama should make McCain the head of the armed forces heading the attack. The only thing he will have to lead the charge.

    June 25, 2013 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  6. Dan Britten

    Putin is a former KGB agent reigning unchallenged over one of the world's geographically largest countries where many people still live with 3rd world plumbing and hand-cranked electricity. He has control of Russia any way he likes it. The man is not afraid of us.

    June 25, 2013 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  7. TruthandConsequence

    McCain has become a banty rooster preening about the yard or is it a mad dog barking at the moon? Does this fellow who cannot get tough on illegal immigration really think anyone is listening to him when he talks getting tough with Putin?

    June 25, 2013 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  8. sfeadmin

    The whole world knows McCain is an arrogant, simple minded warmonger... he always has been. The man is human garbage, and that's the very reason so many republicans still like him! Of course, McCain approves of spying on Americans... he has never demonstrated any integrity... being stupid enough to be caught and held in a POW camp does not make him a hero... it wasn't anything heroic he did. Snowden, on the other hand, is a real hero!

    June 25, 2013 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  9. Grinning Libber

    Go away McSame.

    June 25, 2013 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  10. MR

    McCain next suggestion: Mount a ground war in Russia, along with North Korea, Syria, and god knows who else ... Brazil?

    June 25, 2013 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  11. Sam A.

    Does anybody remember the last time this halfwit McCain tried to "stand up" to Russia? Georgia lost 2 of its provinces in less than 6 hours.

    John, you;re nothing but an old, useless has been. Your most recent International "event" has been to literally take a picture with a Terrorist. So please sit down and SHUT UP.

    June 25, 2013 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  12. Aika

    I guess you could say he's.. putin the pressure on.

    June 25, 2013 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  13. Robert Pyne

    Well, I kind of like the guy. He may be old school, but that may also be the teaching we need. There is some good 'ol America zest missing nowadays that he brings about. I am so disapointed that everything must be so prope today. We must be ever so careful about all the wrong things. I like clear "write and wrong" (We are right, they are wrong) No win/win BS, "I win, you lose", strong confidence in our country. Let's not be nice. Let's just be ourselves!

    June 25, 2013 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  14. Guest

    I'm not a Republican or a war monger, but it does seem that Mr. Putin takes every chance to spite our country. I agree with McCain. Call this guy's bluff. He's popular but not immortal (no one is in Russia).

    June 25, 2013 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  15. Robert Pyne

    Right and wrong that is... sorry

    June 25, 2013 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  16. Flip

    When you're approaching 80 years old the brain stops functioning with reason. Time to move on John, please retire...

    June 25, 2013 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  17. dikelmm1

    What does Mccain have against Palin. Oh, sorry, it is Putin.

    June 25, 2013 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  18. Anonymous

    Putin will return ring...and there is a thin line between whistle blowing and espionage...everybody need to calm down....the world need a good laugh...sometimes us...

    June 25, 2013 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  19. E.A. Poe

    "Get tough with Putin! Shoot cruise missles at Syria! Invade Iran! Stay in Iraq! Stay in Afghanistan!" Hey John, sit down, sip your Ensure and watch the Weather Channel. If you want to talk, tell people how you violated mission protocol and got yourself shot down. Tell them how you made an anti-U.S. statement to get better treatment by the North Vietnamese. Tell them how you cheated on your wife, who raised your kids and waited for you.

    June 25, 2013 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  20. Jack Frost

    Most of these comments are right. McCain is a bitter old man who thinks nothing of getting the US into another conflict this time with one of the worlds most powerful nations. I am sick and tired of hearing him rant on about how we need to get tough with everyone. His experience in Vietnam has surely soured his outlook on humanity. Please retire and go home.

    June 25, 2013 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  21. Tim

    Those who do not understand Putin are condemned to repeat the Cold War. Someone said earlier on this topic that McCain doesn't understand "the new world order." It is Putin who is the anachronism. He is a pure Cold Warrior who wants to return to those days because Russia today is basically irrelevant to the world. Chances are your house contains dozens, if not hundreds of products made in China. Quick... how many products in your house - with the possible exception of vodka - were made in Russia?

    Exactly.

    Now, if you really want to go Cold War on Putin, it's guaranteed he'd be a total kitten if Obama would just whisper.. "Maybe we'll sit out the Sochi Olympics." I'm not in favor of using sports a weapon, but I guarantee 100% Putin will back down from anything if the Sochi games are merely threatened... it's just how weak he and Russia really are.

    June 25, 2013 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  22. that will do it

    McCain is so smart. Let's make the country that has Snowden mad and that will show them. Did he not learn diplomacy101...

    June 25, 2013 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  23. JamVee

    I wish Senator McCain would explain exactly how he proposes that we "get tough" with the leader of Russia? Is he suggesting a military attack, missile strikes, drones, spitballs, water pistols at 20 paces?
    I think we need to find ways to pressure Russia, and China, on this issue that will really hurt, but, honestly, I think the guy has lost his marbles.

    June 25, 2013 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  24. Larry L

    All of our enemies support Snowden. Why not? He's a traitor working for their side. At some point real American heros will die because Snowden betrayed our country. His admission that he took the job for Booz just to get classified information to leak to our enemies is proof of his guilt. He belongs in a federal prison.

    June 25, 2013 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  25. CaptainDorkOfTheWeeniePatrol

    McCain is armchair quarterbacking. He had his chance to be in charge of everything but he's not.

    "Off with their heads!"

    No skin off his nose.

    He's noise.

    June 25, 2013 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
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