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

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

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="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. Praying for America

    This will be a sorry day if McCain gets into the White House. We are so busy fussing that we are not listening. This man does not know nothing but war. I read something about Hillary supporters voting for McCain and she can run in 2012. Ask yourself this one questions if this man is elected will we be here in 2012?

    Please people I want to see my grandchildren grow up.

    August 12, 2008 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  2. Alex

    Yes, it is bad that Russia has invaded a sovereign nation with little justification and no international support. I think they were just following the USA's example. If you want something, take it.

    August 12, 2008 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  3. jimmy

    Russia's invasion of the nation of Gerogia just put the old Soviet
    Union and Communist Style of aggression without provocation into
    International spotlight.. It has done them more damage than they inflicted on Georgia and its people..Now the former Soviet annexed States like Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania , as well as Ukraine , Poland are wary and duly suspicious of Russian intentions in the region and are banding together moving into aliaances with Nato and the Western Powers. They all know as we do that You simply cannot trust the Russians and their leaders of which many of them are former Soviet/ KGB officials. It is Senator McCain who is the right man to be Commander in Chief . He is more experience and better judgement than Obama. Our Country's problems are enormous and our next President will be faced with Wars and potential wars (Iran) and now the Russian threat.

    August 12, 2008 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  4. Bob Beckner

    Remember what our next president said: I can see in Putins' eyes K G B ! This is why we need a former military hero as Commander ian Chief, and include Colonel Oliver North in the mix Bob Beckner Nokomis, Florida

    August 12, 2008 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  5. Len in Washington

    This man's overpowering desire to win the election is astounding! Even if it means nuclear war.

    Evangelicals, is this what you want?
    Moderate Republicans, is this what you want?
    Independants, is this what you want?
    Hillary Supporters, is this what you want?

    Get a grip, people, this man is dangerous.

    August 12, 2008 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  6. FLA Voter

    You people have got to stop listening to Obama and the Democrats!!!

    McCain is absolutely right about this. Look at the facts!!!

    Putin (the ex president) is still running that country. He has in essence taken a democratic country and turned back into a communist country. He will NEVER leave power as long as he is alive and then someone will be "elected" to fill his shoes.

    You morons just can't see the light because you are blinded by the "Great Saviour's" glow. All praise OH-BHAMA!!!

    Public Speaker 08-12!!!

    August 12, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  7. checkthisout

    Russia has veto power at the UN.

    Just a reminder for Obama.

    August 12, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  8. Mike in MN

    McCain is THE MAN. Even Obama knows this. He keeps following McCains lead. There is even an current CNN article stating his position has moved towards that of McCain's on this matter of Russian aggression.

    McCain is my man for President. Ready to lead and move our nation forward.

    August 12, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  9. Typical White Person

    Why don't we ask our friends in Britain about Russia's motives and ambitions? Aren't they in the middle of an investigation of the radioactive poisoning of a Russian dissident who was critical of Putin????

    August 12, 2008 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  10. H. Charles

    Is this information about Putin something new or has it been going on since he took office in Russia? This is not news. Bush let this guy do whatever he wanted. Russia is not afraid of us and they're certainly not afraid of some 5 foot 3 71 year old who can barely raise his arms. Insulting and intimidating other countries is not the way to go. Peaceful dialogue.

    August 12, 2008 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  11. Jill- IN

    I think it matters more what the current President says and how HE is handling this issue right NOW. That is the telling tale. Also, while CNN and others are deciding who would best handle this if it were them in the WH at some future date, has anyone asked just what our superior U.S. intelligence knew about this and when, if they advised it was imminent or, what if U.S. Intelligence didn't have any intelligence that the Russion invasion of Georgia was imminent. That is an important question. Now ask yourself how safe you feel!

    August 12, 2008 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  12. David Goldman for OBAMA



    * then you should ask yourselves*


    August 12, 2008 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  13. Thomas, Illinois

    ACTION without thinking....(John McCain)....Is like SHOOTING a gun without aming......McCain is very dangerous....

    August 12, 2008 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  14. Stephen

    I just don't get it? McCain takes a stand on an issue and Obama acts befuddled and takes the same stand, yet the liberals say Obama was right and bash McCain. Isn't the Left about having an open mind on issues. I guess that's only the case when it's convenient and when we have is has to do with minorities and the poor. Stop the comparison's of Bush and McCain, you all know how wrong you are on that topic, but like you're candidate, will do anything to get him elected. Shame on all of you for you constant attempts to downplay Obama's weaknesses. You act like he has none...why don't you try telling me what his strength is...speaking in public? That will sure get us to the promise land...NOT!

    August 12, 2008 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  15. Fort Worth, TX

    It's not over yet folks! We criticize Russia for invading Georgia but we will be bombing Iran before years end. Talk about double talk!

    August 12, 2008 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  16. GoodCitizen

    Putting all childish political leanings aside, it's obvious that McCain is right on this one.

    It would be a real hit to the US and world peace if we have to deal with another cold war – I hope that the world can nip this one in the bud. Unfortunately, Europe relies on Russia for their fuel just like we rely on the Middle East. It is a real shame we don't have more fuel options as consumers. Now that would make the world a safer place – politically, environmentally and economically. You think with all of our technical advances we could pull out at least 2 other cheaper substitutes to gasoline/oil.

    – GoodCitizen

    August 12, 2008 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  17. Doc

    It would be nice if everyone understood their place in the world. Clearly most don't. Our country has lost much respect on the world plane.

    Just how do you not talk to Russia? There is nothing you can to do them militarily without creating WW3. Plus they are needed to keep Iraq in their box. Same as China. Even Bush understands that. He says a few bad things about them before he enters the country and has a ball once he's there. He acts like he is on the biggest vacation of his life.

    McCain likes to rattle sabers and talk a big game but he is not true to his word. There is nothing to be done but talk to Russia. Plus the world doesn't want to hear from someone that it considers a lier...remember why we went into Iraq...WMD....lies. All I see is another chip off the same old block.

    We better find someone that can talk to the world. We haven't done too well by ourselves over the last 8 years.

    August 12, 2008 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  18. His Best Days are Behind Him

    What has McCain done but sell a bunch of wolf tickets he can't back up?

    What do you want to do John, nuke 'em?

    You want to deploy ground troops? Have you thought about how you are going to get them quickly into tha mountaneous region? They'd be sitting ducks as paratroopers.

    By sea? How you going to quickly navigate to the Black Sea through the narrow straits between it and the Mediterranean.

    You don't THINK THINGS THROUGH Mr. So-Called I'm Ready to be Commander-n-Chief.

    We want Russia to keep Iran in check. We need them to do this because with Saddam removed, Iraq is no longer a counter-balance to Iran.

    You see, Mr. McCain, all these things play together. Your repeated lack of long range, comprehensive , strategic thinking is why you are not right for the job ... Add in your temper and whew ...

    August 12, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  19. H. Charles

    And to all of you who are complaining because Obama is on vacation, weren't you all complaining the other day that you see too much of him? Please do something productive with your lives.

    August 12, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |

    If Putin wants to restore the old Russian empire that should be fine with McCain for two reasons.

    First, he'd have a reason to agrue for war when he returns to the Senate.

    Second, with the old empire he could remember the names – now if he could pronouce the Presidents of Russia's name correctly we might be making progress.


    August 12, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  21. ben

    Will this man ever learn that war is not the answer to world problems? War is the biggest problem that could possibly exist!!!!!!!!!!!!

    August 12, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  22. MBFLA

    Please save the US from WWlll and Johnny McWar. We can do so much better!
    Who attacked whom first? My understanding is that Georgia made the first move regardless of what the MSM is trying to tell us.

    August 12, 2008 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  23. Peg

    McCain please stop the war-mongering.

    August 12, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  24. Sweetie

    The empty suit vacationing in Hawaii is too young to remember the COLD WAR YEARS!

    So from his cell phone he says-we need to talk with the UN.

    I'm old enough at age 55 to understand what is at stake here.

    It is VERY serious and John McCain is totally correct in coming out right away and with Tough Words.


    McCAIN 08

    August 12, 2008 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  25. David in Dallas

    What kind of relationship can McCain have with Russia when he uses them as scapegoats in a fearmongering strategy during his campaign?

    One of the very few things I will commend Bush for is keeping a fairly peaceful relationship with Russia. McCain's already set the tone for the relationship he'd have.

    August 12, 2008 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
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