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.”

Filed under: John McCain • Popular Posts
soundoff (315 Responses)
  1. PG

    Ahhhh FEAR...Just what America needs. Believe people many Americans didn't have enough of the Bush years. What a pity!

    August 12, 2008 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  2. ANGIE

    No doubt in my mind war monger mccain wants to start a war with russia well thank god my two boys are not old enough to get drafted!! I dont understand for the life of me how bush or mccain can condem russia for their invasion but its OK WITH MCCAIN AND BUSH WE INVADED IRAQ!!! PATHETIC!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AND THEY WANT TO STAY THERE!!!

    August 12, 2008 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  3. Sarge in Florida

    Hey grandpa don't screw with the Russians. They will kick the living crap out of you. Scary because you would press the button to start WWIII. We may pick on small countries that don't have nukes but now you want to start with Russian. Who's next China? Remember McShame they have the capabilities to wipe us out with their nukes. There would be no more elections if you go around running your mouth like Bush. Bush condemned Russia for invading Georgia, what about us invading Iraq based on lies? We are not the police of the world.

    August 12, 2008 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  4. R.I.F.

    Mike, TX,

    First Obama acts too "presidential" by going and meeting with foreign leader and now he's not acting "presidential" enough because he's taking a vacation for the first time in 19 months. I guess this guy can't win with you.

    Meanwhile, McCain's doing nothing more than Sabre-rattling, which is probably not a good idea right now considering that our armed forces are stretched so thin because of the war in Iranq and Afganastan.

    August 12, 2008 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  5. Tara

    To All that want to critisize Obama for being in Hawaii. You are being silly. Obama was there before this crisis escalated Obama has not only spoken out about this issue but he has ( as well as McCain) spoken to the leaders of Georgia and is briefed on the issue everyday. McCain would love to use this for political foder but he should be very cautious. McCain at this pt is a paper Tiger. He know full well that we do not have the resources to wage any type millitary action against Russia. If anything this brings home the point that Barack would be better at this so called 3 am moment because he understands teh importance of diplomacy especially considering we are not in a possition to use military force. While McCain wants to saber rattle and just escalate the situation. People be afraid be very Afraid McCain wants war and alot of it....

    August 12, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  6. Dan

    I smell another Cold War

    August 12, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  7. Connie

    I see an axis of evil speech coming ,Geo. Bush looked into Putins eyes and seen his soul, now McSenile can read his mind. McSenile might want to look at the 3;00 am ad again it said the phone was ringing in the white house, but of course the prez was in China, the servants answered the call. OBAMA/BAYH 08
    Connie form Indiana

    August 12, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  8. biffington, biff




    how low of him to try to make political hay out of this.

    August 12, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  9. Michael

    With the issue of his age lingering in the minds of some voters, perhaps McCain should not be talking about the Russian Empire. He is OLD, but not old enough to remember that.

    August 12, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  10. Phil Newton Murphy, Oregon

    In this case, I agree with the Senator.

    August 12, 2008 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  11. Richard J

    more "old" comments from the shallow obama supporters. You know that 26% of the senate is over 70 yrs old?

    August 12, 2008 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  12. scott

    There goes ole' John again....rattling his saber.

    Perhaps someone should remind him that the Cold War is over.

    August 12, 2008 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  13. RW

    From everything I've heard and seen, Putin can't be trusted
    and want to go back to the old day's of the Soviet Union,
    so we need a man like John McCain with no hesitation
    not a Chicago Thugmaster like Obama.

    August 12, 2008 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  14. Independent Voter

    Dear Barack:

    This is the way real presidents react to Russian "take backs."

    Tomorrow I expect you to start copying McCain so we will all think you know something about how to be president and how to deal with those "people you don't like." Talking to them clearly won't work, moron.

    Listen carefully to McCain, and be sure to take notes so you won't look like the babe in the woods here.

    August 12, 2008 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  15. ERD in NC

    He then added "And I'm fine with that"

    August 12, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  16. The Observer

    = = = where were the yelps and screams against Bush to stop his invasion and illegal war against a sovereign nation of Iraq; his invasion and senseless killings of civilians? McWar and others berate Russia for reigning in the break-away provinces. Does “Shock and Awe” sound familiar? How many innocent people does one have to kill before one is labeled a “War Criminal”?
    Regime Change? That was a term Bush invented, right? Bush also said “If you are not with me you are against me”. So much for democracy! So don’t try to shift the nations attention away from Iraq by berating Russia!

    August 12, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  17. SDindependent

    It should be noted the McCain-Bush-Cheney foreign policy is responsible for letting this flare-up happen. Obama has been calling for talks to diffuse the situation for months.

    It also should be noted the impotent position of the U.S. in this episode demonstrates the degree to which McCain-Bush-Cheney and their neo-con friends have diminished the leadership of the U.S. in international affairs. The Russians backed off only after the President of France initiated talks with the Russians.

    Another 4 years of this type of policy and diplomacy and the United States will be more than impotent, we will be neutered.

    August 12, 2008 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  18. Ted - NYC

    Vote for World War 3, vote for McCain!

    August 12, 2008 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  19. Laura

    Seems to me that the tough talk worked.

    Not only did Pres. Bush give a tough statement but Senator McCain looked very Presidental when he too gave Russia some stern words. This morning I heard on CNN that Russia was planning on leaving Georgia. So...

    Obama must have totally paniced. I can see it now. Sipping a Blue Hawaiian and being told you better make a statement. Darn no suits with me. Gotta look as Presidental as I can. (Finds a couple of flags) and wears a dark shirt open collar. I don't think I paid attention to what he said since I was distracted by the appearance of the man who wants to lead the nation in a time of turmoil.

    Even Hillary would have had a dress pantsuit packed away for an emergency situation!!

    NoObama!!!! write in Hillary 08

    August 12, 2008 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  20. Barr '08

    Things younger than John McCain:
    Howdy Doody
    Area Codes
    FM Radio
    Peany Butter & Jelly sandwiches
    Automatic Car Transmissions
    40-Hour Work Week

    I'm leaning towards voting for the presidential candidate NOT endorsed by the worst president in American history.

    August 12, 2008 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  21. Michelle, PA

    McCain is still stuck in a Cold War mentality, so now he wants to turn back the clock to a time and situation he can understand. The fact is, the Bush Administration contributed to the Georgian situation by largely ignoring our chilling relationship with Russia and encouraging Georgia to escalate existing tensions between itself and Russia by sending its own troops into South Ossetia. McCain has been harping about kicking Russia out of the G8, which even he has to know is both ignorant and impossible. Like it or not, Russia is still a formidable world player, a huge supplier of oil and natural gas to Western nations and a financier of a portion of the US national debt – we need them, and we need them to remain healthy. Russia needs Western investment to continue to explore and exploit its own resources to fuel its growth. Instead of ignoring them then shaking a finger in their face when they do not do as we bid, we should be actively pursuing open dialog and cooperation when possible to foster the relationship. A new Cold War is in nobody's best interests.

    August 12, 2008 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  22. Sacto Joe

    Great. Another oil war.

    When will this country finally end it's addiction to oil?

    If you want to continue the addiction, vote for McCain.

    If you want to end it, vote for Obama.

    Pretty simple, really.

    August 12, 2008 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  23. EBC

    McCain is ALL about WAR, WAR, WAR...

    This coming from a man who KNOWS nothing about nothing. He's just keeps flapping his gums without saying anything substantial in the process. McCain is all about another WORLD WAR III. He's going to put your daughters, sons, husbands, wives, sisters, brothers, uncles and aunts in HARMS way AGAIN, all in the name of stroking his "out of date" EGO. He has NO idea what he's doing, he's been in the Senate for 30+ years AND what has he done, voted in support of George W. Bush.

    If this isn't a WARNING FLAG to the American People, I don't know what is. I mean how many times are we going to play the "suckers" by another EGOTISTIC and IGNORANT President?

    Many elders would say" if you haven't LEARN your lesson from your FIRST mistake, SHAME ON YOU"!!! I mean it's been TWO BIG mistakes in George Bush, how many more do you plan on making by supporting this fool?

    August 12, 2008 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  24. RDS

    @Mike, TX...McCain is doing nothing more than talking b/c that's all he can do! He has just as much power as Obama when it come to actually doing something which is really none. If Obama came back from vacation what is he going to do give a speech or issue a statement, how is that going to help the conflict? McCain doesn't have any power he's just yapping and overstepping the president with idle threats that we are not going to follow through with.

    August 12, 2008 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  25. McDrill here and Now.

    With all these accusations from McCain how will you have a constructive relationship with Russia. Americans be ready for WAR WITH IRAN, CHINA AND RUSSIA.
    McCain knows how to win WARS!

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