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. Tyler in Raleigh

    Bomb Iran! Bomb Russia! 100 years in both!

    We won't let the Russians take over the world, by beating them to it like we did in Iraq and Afghanistan! So now the US, which is "occupying" Iraq is telling other countries where they can and can't go?

    August 12, 2008 11:42 am at 11:42 am |

    Obama better huddle up with his advisers immediately to get his position straight and come out with a statement....I can hear it now, "My opponent thinks Putin is trying to bring back the old Empire, but I think we just need to inflate the tires on the tank. Uh, uh, uh, I mean tighten up the tracks on the tank, yeah!"

    August 12, 2008 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  3. John B. From New Hampshire

    ahhh, fear mongering yet again. LOVE IT!!!!! Same old GAME!!

    August 12, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  4. Obama-Junkie, IL

    Let McCain beat the drums of the "cold" war with inflammatory talk about old Russian empires. The tougher McCain gets with Russia the more afraid America will become of what McCain would do as President.

    In other words, let McCain implode.

    August 12, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  5. John B. From New Hampshire

    i'm starting to think Bush is smarter.... GOOD LORD HELP US ALL!!!

    August 12, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  6. Texas trail puppy

    Sen.McCain is just warming up for WW3 don't worry Americans when he is president we shall bomb, bomb,bomb Russia to Kingdom come!!!!!
    Vote Obama '08 end this madness!!!!

    August 12, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  7. Independent voter

    you are not the president, old man. why are you dictating policies to the russian prime minister?

    this guy loves war so much he just can't wait til november, he must insult the russian government as soon as possible so the world can fall into WWIII ASAP!

    what a foolish old man.

    August 12, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  8. Corey, Maryland

    I have to agree with McCain on this one, I wouldn't trust Putin or Medvedev at all.

    Obama Richardson 2008

    August 12, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  9. the heart of the matter

    and we really want to consider letting this guy in the White House???? great form of diplomatic posture–yes we need to be tough but hey maybe we could be more so but HEY WE"RE IN IRAQ!!!!!! where we shouldnt bed and hey they want us out and he wants to stay! CANT ELECT THIS OLD SHORTSIGHTED MAN!!!!!

    August 12, 2008 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  10. blaising

    The old Russian empire?...czardom?? OMG, McCain's off his meds...again!!

    Shortly after former President Ronald Reagan announced he had Alzheimer's Disease, McCain told this joke at a GOP Fundraiser:

    “Do you know the best thing about having Alzheimer's?
    You get to hide your own Easter eggs.”

    Whatever grandpa...

    August 12, 2008 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  11. John McShame, Obama Is Going to Tax You & Cindy, but Not Me & 95% Americans Making < $250,000/Yr

    John McSame call your buddy George Dubya off touching athletes behind in Beijing and you guys can go "nuke" Russia!

    August 12, 2008 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  12. Peggy - TX

    I would be interested in leaning what McCain’s position has been for the last 30 years on Russia. This problem in Georgia did not just happen over night, it has been brewing for years. What about needing Russia as an ally against Iran, how does McCain suggest we consulate these two conflicting positions. Also, is out focus in Iraq keeping the US weak and impotent to do anything about Georgia.

    August 12, 2008 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  13. Never Barak Obama

    True Americans know what is at stake this election that is why 18million HRC supporters are voting for you.

    August 12, 2008 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  14. Matt

    McCain proves his foreign policy experience here in dealing with the Russia/ Georgia problem.

    McCain has been right every time on Russia. Right for years.

    Obama has been right, well....never.

    August 12, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  15. California Gold

    Smearing the head of a government in order to make yourself sound "tough" is NOT effective governing not is it diplomatic.

    Additionally, this is about oil and access to the commodity, not about the old 20th century Soviet Union.

    Another week another example of McCain stupidity.

    August 12, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |

    McCain wants to expand the American Empire by sendind your children to foreign wars

    August 12, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  17. Aways Question the Source

    It looks to me like BOTH Putin and McCain want to restore the idea of a cold war. McCain cannot survive as a candidate without playing up ideas of fear and threats. He does not operate out of this realm with his idea of foreign relations.

    McCain as president = War, War, More War & Extended Recession.

    August 12, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  18. People make no sense

    Why didn't Bush say this to Israel when they attacked, and continue to attack palestine: Didn't we attack Iraq?

    "Russia has invaded a sovereign neighboring state and threatens a democratic government elected by its people. Such an action is unacceptable in the 21st century," the president said in a televised statement from the White House, calling on Moscow to sign on to the outlines of a cease-fire as the Georgian government has done.

    August 12, 2008 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  19. RyVA


    August 12, 2008 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  20. Becky

    So what can we do about it? We are already $500 billion in debt to the Chinese and all of our traditional allies hate us because of McBush's stupid war in Iraq...This is why you use force as a LAST RESORT because now we have played our cards exposing the neo-cons bluff.

    Leaders of Countries who think that average Americans can or will help them because a psuedo-leader goes jet skiing with them need to start taking care of their own messes....Its not that we dont want to help, but we cannot help....We have our own messes to deal with.

    August 12, 2008 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  21. larryh wi

    I have to agree John, Russia has been, is now, and alwatys will be a World threat, we should have let Patten take care of them when he had the opportunity, just like we did with IRAQ.

    August 12, 2008 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  22. KGB Alert

    McCain is right on the money. Putin is a Russian reactionary with dreams of world dominance. The only thing missing is the communist ideology. Once KGB, always KGB....
    Putin respects McCain, but I think he'll see Obama as an example of American hype.

    McCain 08
    Substance over Hype

    August 12, 2008 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  23. keebler

    hmmm sounds similar to Bush "axis of evil" ranting. more moron ranting to attract similar types of voters. wait for him to start ranting "the scurge the scurge". Name calling one the strongest nations in the world, probably isn't the best first step.

    Sure does get votes though. The mindless non educated vote. Too bad dumb votes and smart votes are equal in weight in this country.

    August 12, 2008 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  24. Robin

    Wonder if he can think of a song to fit the US getting involved in this one against Russia, a la' "Bomb Bomb Bomb, Bomb Bomb Iran"?

    August 12, 2008 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  25. I used to be a Democrat

    Glad to know that there is at least one candidate who knows what's going on in Russia.

    I don't think Obama could even find Russia on a map, much less give a speech about this new war.

    August 12, 2008 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
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