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. bruja

    WHAT ARE YOUR DOING? Start world war 3? Or are you satisfied with a new cold war?

    August 12, 2008 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  2. joe

    you the man mccain.

    August 12, 2008 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  3. fella from Chicago

    Senator McCain saw Putin's intentions years ago and no one would listen. Now it's happening. McCain isn't sending any troops. Get off the funny colored pills, Obama supporters. Through diplomatic and economic pressures the Russian's can be persuaded to look at things differently. We need Russia to help curb Iran's ambitions and Russia needs us economically. No one is going to bash one another over the head. However, the Russian's have eyes on again expanding their influence and we must help Western leaning nations like Georgia and the Ukraine get into NATO as quick as possible to ally themselves with Europe and the US among others.

    August 12, 2008 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  4. Mike Dallas

    Apparantly, McCrypt wants his very own personal war now, I guess to show us he knows "how to win wars", if he is in control start to finish. Sad.

    August 12, 2008 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  5. MMN-Milwaukee WI

    McCain-as-foreign-policy-authority is a myth, McCain has shown time and time again that, far from being an expert when it comes to foreign policy, he is frequently - and dangerously - clueless.

    So every day between now and November 4th voters should be reminded that:
    1. McCain has been among the most ardent supporters of the war in Iraq - the most disastrous foreign policy decision in American history.
    2. McCain falsely claims that, from the beginning of the war, he called on former Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld to resign. He should have, but he didn't.
    3. McCain thinks it's "not too important" when American forces come home from Iraq.
    4. McCain has repeatedly claimed that Iran was training members of al-Qaeda in Iraq, showing a fundamental misunderstanding of the key players in the war. He doesn't understand the difference between Shiites and Sunnis, and even after being corrected he still doesn't get it.
    5. Need more proof of why McCain is not "ready to lead"? Do you want a president who thinks there is an "Iraq/Pakistan border"? Who believes Darfur is in Somalia? And that Czechoslovakia is still a country?

    August 12, 2008 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  6. Dora

    Actions of peacenics and president Carter directly led to invasion of Afganistan by Sovjet Army in 1980, which was the catalist of all further problems in the Middle East. Young people think that Obama and good intentions can appease fashists and any KGB goverment . If you give them a finger, they will swallow your.

    August 12, 2008 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  7. TunnelVision

    Tough Talk is Campaign strategy it doesn't restore peace in Georgia. Here go the republicans trying to make Americans believe that rebuilding the OLD Russian Empire is possible..that's as laughable as his statement that the anthrax strains came from Al

    McCain/Exxon Mobile 08

    August 12, 2008 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  8. M. Townsend

    Danger! Danger! Who wants a third world war?

    What do republicans say about McCain?

    Sen Thad Cochran of Mississippi said "The thought of his being president sends a cold chill down my spine," Cochran said about McCain by phone. "He is erratic. He is hotheaded. He loses his temper and he worries me."

    Sen Cochran has known the McCain family from the days when they lived in Mississippi and got to know McCain well in the 1970s when Cochran served in the US House and McCain served as a naval liaison in Congress

    August 12, 2008 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  9. ben

    I am am a republican and will vote for Obama. If John paul were running, I would have voted for him. Why isn't he running(actually he i in a way) He isn't really running because he was against the war in Irak. The oil companies soon put him out of the race!

    August 12, 2008 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  10. Patrick

    To those criticizing McCain; just what is he wrong about? So from now on calling out unnecessary aggression on a democracy is called fear mongering? So we should sit back and let Russia do whatever it wants to? You are siding with the aggressors. In your attempt to avoid war at all costs you let other countries commit whatever atrocities they want. Wake up, McCain is right. You all would sit quietly by why the world commits one act of genocide against its own people (Saddam in Iraq) to another (Russia in Georgia). Peace through strength.

    August 12, 2008 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  11. bruja

    BTW: Why do you not trust the Russians? YOU TRUSTED BUSH!!!!!!!!!
    And now you trust McCain??????

    August 12, 2008 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  12. SpaceCat

    The "Russian Empire"??? McCain is out of his cotton-picking mind. What we need is someone like Obama who can see the world clearly and not through McCain's and the rest of the neocons' naive, child-like eyes. It's not all "good v. evil," McCain. He would make for a very dangerous president. I don't want this unstable old man anywhere near that red phone!

    August 12, 2008 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  13. w.l. jones

    East and west met in Germany you dont have be a genius to figure thing out.:out"so shut up and let our president handle foreign policy.

    August 12, 2008 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  14. Timothy

    American people don'nt be fool again by another lying Republican like Bush who led us into war that should of never happen.Mccain is trying to fear some of the American people into voting for him because Mccain thinks he knows what he is talking about and Mccain is a war monger. American people don'nt be fool not this time. Only thing the Republicans have is to scare some of the American people about war because some of the American people think Mccain knows what he is talking about because he was a POW many, many years ago. The American people need a new and updated Foreign Policy If Mccain is elected some of the American people will be sorry just like they are sorry because Bush was elected President. Wake Up say No to Mccain

    August 12, 2008 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  15. Rob indetroit

    john MCcrazy wants to vblow up the world , sounds like he's too risky. Obama 08.

    August 12, 2008 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  16. Remy

    Many here shouting at Russia without knowing the facts. Georgia is a bordering nation and it cannot intimidate Russia with Israeli trained army or American supplied weapons.

    Americans are dishonest and secretly supply GUNS to Georgia. American lap dog Isreal is also there! Why?

    McCain can go and fight there instead of crying in USA. Bush barked that Georgia is a sovereign nation. Did these two idiots Bush and McCain know Iraq is also a sovereign nation?

    NATO is not a democratic alliance but a military alliance. Russia is also a sovereign nation and it cannot allow American-Israeli backed criminals at her doors step!

    American politicians or any American have no moral right to bark at Russia while they invaded Iraq for no reason and still killing people there. American medias now stopped counting the civilian deaths in Iraq. More than half million Iraqis already killed.

    August 12, 2008 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  17. Robert

    Not sure if my previous post will get published so just wanted to add that Putin dealing with terrorism in his own backyard, whether linked to oil or not, is his business. Not ours. Certainly NOT McCains. Haven't we interfered enough with other countries? Forced democracy isn't in any way, shape or form, democracy. Putin is no threat to us, much as we would like him to be. Same with Sadam Hussein. He was also no threat to us, much as we would have liked him to be. Anybody getting a pattern here?

    August 12, 2008 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  18. Matthew

    I'm not a McCain supporter but he is correct about Russia. Putin has been peeling back democracy in Russia for many years and the conflict in Georgia is a land/power grab.

    August 12, 2008 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  19. Anonymous

    Hopefully McCain backs off this rhetoric now that the events of the conflict are coming out

    August 12, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  20. Crush Rush

    Putin would have made a great Republican,do what ever you please and to heck with the people.

    August 12, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  21. jim in DC

    McAwesome is right we do need to watch out for Russia in the future but I dont think there is anything we can do about this situation.

    August 12, 2008 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  22. NMB

    Bush is butt slapping the Olympics babes and Condi is doing what?
    Shoe shopping again?

    August 12, 2008 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  23. Eric

    All this from a guy who could not remember that Putin was prime minister and not President anymore.

    Perfect example of why McCain is not ready to be President and will never be. A vast majority of Russians back Putin, for many reasons, and the kind of talk offered by McCain only put fuel on problems instead of bringing something to the debate. It has nothing to do with being weak or strong. You do have to hold your ground while making sure, through diplomacy, to build a strong enough coalition to deter any ambition Putin might have. McCain does not understand that, nor does he have any real understanding of geopolitics. Not surprising considering he admits himself that he does not read. US can not afford 4 years with someone who does not know what he's doing.

    August 12, 2008 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  24. Daniel So Cal

    The best way to end an Empire is to get yourself in debt through wars; i.e., Rome and France.

    I see McCain would like to see the U.S. follow the demise of those empires through his sabre rattling.

    August 12, 2008 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  25. informed florida voter

    Now that Russia is flexing it's muscles again, we more than ever need a capable leader. Obama is not it. Wake up people. We need to stay stong and vigilant and now is not the time to give on the job training to a rookie.

    August 12, 2008 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
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