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. RobertOKUSA

    It's times like this I am very glad McCain isn't President! The man never saw a war he didn't like.

    June 25, 2013 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  2. don in albuquerque

    But the Russians say they don't have him.....And we believe them because............

    June 25, 2013 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  3. Johnny

    Obama is far too calculating not to know where Snowden is located. I'm sure he's far more informed than McCain could ever dream.

    The republican days of act first, think later are over.

    June 25, 2013 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  4. Rudy NYC

    Karma

    I used to like McCain, before he became a typical War-Mongering Republican!
    ---------------------
    Bad news. McCain has always been a war monger. The only reason he objected to the Iraqi War was because Bush was making himself the first POTUS to start a war and *cut* taxes. No matter the party, every previous POTUS *raised* taxes when starting a war. Otherwise, McCain was all for a war with Saddam.

    June 25, 2013 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  5. Name abie solis

    ...So were we or were we not terrorists in vietnam?

    June 25, 2013 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  6. Name abie solis

    Mccain wants war, god wills it.

    June 25, 2013 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  7. Saboth

    Thank goodness McCain was not elected. We'd probably be involved in 6 wars and the deficit would be 30 trillion by the time he and GW got done with it.

    June 25, 2013 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  8. lolo

    Here we go again calling for war. This man should not be calling for war with any country. He should have enough of war considering what he went through.

    June 25, 2013 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  9. tjp44

    get tough? Come on John, this is the Obama adminiistration who isn't tough on anyone....spineless Robin Hood's with no plan except to advance their socialist agenda.....and we, the idiots of America voted for it!!!!!!

    June 25, 2013 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  10. Mike

    Are you kidding me??? Crazy McCain is at it again. First he wants to arm rebels and then he wants to make tensions uneasy with Russia? China is pissed and Russia is pissed. Nothing good could come of any of this. Snowden is no traitor, he let the U.S. know that there rights were being violated along with he rest of the world. Time to get McCain's senile ass out of office.

    June 25, 2013 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  11. tjp44

    come on John, this is the Obama administration whom gets tough with no one........bunch of spineless robin Hood's with no plan except their socialist agenda.....we, the American public elected this atrocity....

    June 25, 2013 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  12. steve851

    McCain is the biggest drag on the GOP and absolutely must go. A total disgrace

    June 25, 2013 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  13. Nanabah Bojean

    Leave Edward Bowden in Russia and have him enjoy communism there. We don't need him back in the USA!
    We don't need tax dollars to be expended on his behalf for court hearings and his stay in the Big House.

    June 25, 2013 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  14. Dyan S

    So we have a military presence in approximately 130 countries through an estimated 900 military bases and yet Russia is the empire? Seems to me like American imperialism is alive and well.

    June 25, 2013 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  15. TomGI

    It's all about the sound bite and photo op with McCain. He always speaks in generalities. Can't be pinned down if he's not specific and never fails to get in a dig at Obama every time he pontificates. He's a do nothing senator.

    June 25, 2013 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  16. rogue351

    War monger. If it was up to McCain we would be in 10 differant wars started by the USA each year. It seems he thinks the military is always the answer.

    June 25, 2013 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  17. us_1776

    McCain poses with a TERRORIST !!

    PRICELESS !!

    .

    June 25, 2013 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  18. New York

    McCain is not the president and it’s obvious if he was that we would have a lot more enemies in the world. This guy is gung-ho about arming every rebel group he can find even if it’s Al Qaeda. After their fortune cookie crumbles he and other republicans run to hide behind their partisan rock and point the finger at President Obama. This is indicative of sociopathic behavior a well know trait among republicans. The underlying point to note is arming rebels brings more $ to the weapons manufacturers and gun freaks that republicans love to support for all their inconspicuous reasons, without regard to the short and long-term effects on the country.

    June 25, 2013 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  19. david shoup

    can't we put him out to pasture.

    June 25, 2013 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  20. PacoParsifal

    Putin has a treasure much more valuable than the 'ring.' He and his KGB buddies have got the treasure trove Snowden. No amount of cajoling or threatening will make a difference at this point. My guess is that Snowden, the wan-a-be secret agent, is getting much more than he naively bargained for.

    June 25, 2013 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  21. 10centsworth

    Does anyone know what this Senator speaks for? Arizona? Is this your mouthpiece in the Halls of Congress? I've always thought it was an honorarium to a convoluted view we now got of "heroes" that put him on that pedestal. Shot down on first mission, spilled his guts in front of a comera and "winked" to let us know he was kidding.
    That is who this Nation considers a "hero". Excuse me, folks, not REALLY meaning to be harsh on the old senile dude but this disgraces and abases the REAL heroes we have. That we continue to let this clown have the world stage is a travesty to OUR honor and good will.

    June 25, 2013 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  22. Ray

    "Truth
    It's too late John. You have the wrong guy sitting in the Oval Office to pull that off! Obama can't get tough with anyone. He hasn't even made a single call to Putin since this happened; he is out playing golf instead; literally.

    It's time for an "American Spring" people..."

    Obama cant get tough? Seriously?

    Where was Osama? In Pakistan territory...do we care? No! We got the job done.

    Bush started what he cant finish, Obama is cleaning it up, one by one thank you...next!

    American Spring? Yes we did, that is why Obama was elected. Ohhhh You mean "Don't Thread on Me people" Hum...oh yeah, Tea Party folks, how is that coming a long?

    June 25, 2013 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  23. Mel Stricker

    All the talk in the world will just keep Putin laughing. If Congress is going to do something then stop talking and do something or keep quiet.

    June 25, 2013 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  24. Polequates

    Do to the American greed, all of our factories or in "CHINA".

    June 25, 2013 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  25. cb

    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."
    -------
    McCain double speak for:
    "I don't know what'd I'd do differently, but I 'm sure as he77 not going to waste an opportunity to slam Obama.

    June 25, 2013 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
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