(CNN) – While millions are transfixed watching the Olympics in Sochi, Sen. John McCain said he is focusing on Russia’s next moves concerning Ukraine after the Games.
“I’m very worried about what actions after the Olympics that (President Vladimir) Putin may take,” McCain said Thursday night on CNN’s “Piers Morgan Live.” “… He will do what’s necessary to keep Ukraine the crown jewel of the Russian empire in the Russian orbit.”
The Arizona Republican said he disagreed with President Barack Obama’s assessment that the U.S. approach “is not to see these as some Cold War chessboard in which we’re in competition with Russia.
“The President doesn’t think it’s a chess game. Certainly Vladimir Putin does. Putin wants a restoration of the Russian empire,” McCain said.
In an interview with Phoenix radio station KFYI on Thursday morning, the senator described Obama as the “most naïve president in history.”
“Remember when he said tell Vladimir, said to Medvedev who was Putin’s puppet, ‘Tell Vladimir if I’m re-elected, when I’m re-elected, I’ll be more flexible.’ Remember the reset button,” McCain said, referring to the March 2012 controversy over Obama’s "open-mic" comments to then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.
In same interview, McCain said the situation with Ukraine could easily spiral into a major international crisis.
McCain’s comments follow a statement he released Wednesday with Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Connecticut, urging targeted sanctions on the Ukrainian government.
“These sanctions should not, and will not, target the people or the country of Ukraine as a whole,” the statement said. “Instead, they will be narrowly focused on those individuals who must be held accountable for violating human rights and undermining democracy. We remain in contact with the Administration and look forward to working together on this legislation.”