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. JR

    “Not the Soviet Union, but the Russian Empire.”

    So McCain thinks Russia wants to bring back the Czar. Well, it's what he knows. He dealt well with Catherine when she was Empress.

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


    August 12, 2008 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  3. Jeff Long

    Obama should go to Georgia right now to give a speech to the Russians! His speeches can save an entire nation!

    August 12, 2008 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  4. President McCain

    War is often unneccessary when one confronts a bully nation.
    And, likewise, often caused when one doesn't.

    August 12, 2008 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  5. Peter Spakouskas

    so nice to see and hear John McCain keeping up the good job --typical war- monger attitude expected from `his`generation -the USA lost the track on the Russian Federation always looking for the threat of the military power and forgetting the financial power of Russia -now along with China and to some extent India Russia is beginning to rule the money world- pity for USA -while expanding military budget at the cost of the home situation-–
    Should it ever give a President McCain then the only result will be a stronger presence of the Russian Finance grasp on the world economy and President McCain will still play world Police Officier-keeping the old belief alive hoping the American people will be satisfied to read and see dead soldiers -fighting for democracy while at home the people slide deeper and deeper in debt- Bravo Mr McCain -– stop beating about the BUSH !!! wake up --

    August 12, 2008 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  6. Fred, Las Vegas, NV

    I wonder what my friend was thinking, saying Russia is trying to restore the Old Russian Empire. That is ridiculous. What about the NATO expansion? Do you expect the Russians to sit on their tails and do nothing? How far is NATO going to expand? Just stop for a moment and see the carnage and suffering that Russian has brought to a sovereign country these few days. NATO is not an economic alliance, it is a war machine. The expansion of NATO is a threat to Russia and it is logical that Russia would do anything to forestall that threat. Politicians should stop lying to us and tackle the root cause of this problem, which is the NATO expansion. I am all for NATO but not for further expansion, I don't think it is a smart thing to continue to do.

    August 12, 2008 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  7. McCain:SmallWeakCowardlyMan OffersMoreOfTheSame TearsOthersDownToBuildHimselfUp

    And this cheap imitation of a presidential candidate wants to continue the Bush dictatorship and imperialism. And the difference is?

    August 12, 2008 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  8. orville

    More saber rattling and fear mongering!!! Isn't it a shame that "McShame" sees that this is his only route to victory!...sounds like more Bush tactics to me! We certainly don't need more of this type of approach to world affairs and diplomacy!...Wake up people...Look what China is doing. Their economic efforts are mind-boggling. They have created a phenomenal economic network of support in Africa, South America and Southeast agreements are burgeoning and their success to enhance their own infrastructure is nothing short of amazing. And what are we doing?...We continue to bankrupt our nation on a pointless war and do virtually nothing here at home in support of our own this the beginning of the end to the great American powerhouse? It will be unless we make some major changes!

    August 12, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  9. Jeronimo!

    Imperialist Dog Fart Hypocritical Cowboy who graduated 894 out of

    897 for President!

    Anything really is possible! Gotta love this country!

    August 12, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  10. D-MI

    Hey "Typical White Person":

    We know very well what Putin has done to Russia:

    Killed the free press, imprisoned or murdered the opposition and consolidated his "party" (read: old KGB + media & commodity control = fascism) power into a functioning dictatorship.

    We are trying to prevent Bush, McCain and the Republican party from doing the same thing here.

    Putin's Russia looks a heck of a lot like Italy prior to WWII. Scary? Sure. More scary: we're starting to look awfully similar. Or course, Rush Limbaugh and the Christofascists will tell you that's because of gays and feminists...

    August 12, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  11. Joseph, Los Angeles

    Why are people even considering voting for a man who like's to get us into wars and provoke leaders of other countries. Most of us are already educated about what really happened in Georgia and why, and Russia wanting to reverse back to historic times is not one of them.

    August 12, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  12. JR

    I just realized, John Paul Jones was in Catherine's court in the old Russian Empire, do you think John McCain has confused himself with John Paul?

    August 12, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  13. Tim

    Putin likes war. He hand picked his successor. Bush likes war, he is trying to hand pick his successor. Bush/McCain vs Putin/Medvedev equals world war 3. It's in the making. TWe, the American people need to break the cycle!!!

    August 12, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  14. The Iraq war IS legal

    Obama thought he said Prussia, but doesn't know anything about that either!!

    August 12, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  15. Don't complain

    in 2025 when Russia controls the oil and natural gas market and we pay so much more for gas and oil....

    August 12, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  16. Lisa M


    McCain look it up or do you now condemn the War on Iraq.

    August 12, 2008 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  17. MInnesota against John McWar

    War is inevitable with Johnny McSame. Iran, Russia, Korea....hell even China if he wakes up on the wrong side of the bed. May God help us if he gets elected.

    August 12, 2008 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  18. rlp-politcal

    Why didn't Bush look into his heart and soul while they were at the Olympics?

    Please folks – we do not need another warmongoer in office. This old man has read a brief and can determine that Putin wants to go back to the old Russian Empire?

    we took over Iraq and get mad when other country defends itself.

    August 12, 2008 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  19. Mike

    Never suprised at the stupidity and gullibility of the American voters. I bet all the McCain supporters have never read any history, and couldn't point to Georgia on a world map.

    August 12, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  20. beevee

    McCain should stiop making statements about Russia. What is trying to achieve? Declare war against Russia as soon as gets elected as president? No more wars please.

    August 12, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  21. Kathryn Irby - Metairie, LA

    Oh! Now, McCain is an expert because he got shot down out of a plane! I DON'T THINK SO!

    August 12, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  22. E

    If putin wants to restore Russia to it iniatial state, it is the Russian's right to do so! The Russians are doing to Georgia what the USA is doing to Iraqi. One super power deserves another!

    August 12, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  23. Nova from NV

    Sen. Obama's strategy of diplomacy and talks should help the Russians build their empire back up again. The world should not have one super power which is America. Two super powers should keep the balance in the world. I think Obama would be good in this situation.

    August 12, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  24. Greg, San Francisco, CA

    How presumptuous! He isn't President. How dare he suggest foreign policy! He's so arrogant! Sound familiar? You can talk tough with Russia all you like John but you have our entire armed forces stuck in Iraq. This isn't a pre-9/11 mentality – it's a pre-WWI mentality.

    August 12, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  25. Rose


    I agree–your candidate McCain is SO MUCH BETTER at GEOGRAPHY than Obama. I bet Obama does not know where the Pakistan-Iraq border or Czechoslovia is. Or how about the difference between Sunni and Shiite.

    Check your facts, you Neo-con, Fox-news spewing moron.

    Obama 08

    August 12, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13