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. War for your children

    McCain has not met a country he wouldn't go to war with. He is the scariest politician I have seen in a long time. The man has a brutal temper and throw on top of that his lust for war and it's a recipe for disaster. The days of diplomacy at the end of a gun are over. McCain is just too old to get the new concepts of the world. He is very much out of touch.

    August 12, 2008 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  2. v.a.

    oooooh beware of all foreigners! foreigners = bad!!!! must destroy foreigners!

    gosh, wake up. czars? russian EMPIRE? get real. only empire forming these day is the U.S. Global Empire

    August 12, 2008 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  3. Tony

    The former Soviet Union crumbled because the rich, privileged, and powerful kept piling up their riches, privilege, and power at the expense of their citizens and their country. Sound familiar? Don't get me wrong, I don't really trust Russia, and we should keep an eye on them, but the Empire we should fear the most is our own.

    August 12, 2008 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  4. RGH

    Please look at a map of Russia and the Caucasus Region. Georgia is a strategically important country to the Russians, it is on their southern flank. The current administration has been leaning on the Europeans to include Georgia in NATO. Therefore, Russia has acted before that could happen. We have overthrown governments in Latin America on lesser pretexts. A nation's strategic needs and areas of legitimate influence do not change with political changes. We misled the Georgians, just as we misled the Hungarians in the 1950's.

    August 12, 2008 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  5. Mike, St. Louis

    I can't believe people are that easily tricked into thinking that Russia isn't a threat. The old communist empire is not going to come again, nor will the empires under the Czar's. However, it is naive to think that Russia doesn't want its power back over the states it lost post-communism. Russia is constantly conducting underhanded things to undermine the young democracies around it. Heck, they even poisoned the Czech president a couple of years ago because he was pro-western. Just as Iraq is essentially influenced by the US now, the Russians want to extend their influence in the surrounding countries, aside from China, so they can have control. It is not the old Russian empire, perse, however once they get control, it will be defacto Russian rule.

    It is also rediculous to say that McCain wants to start a war with Russia. I really wish there was more intelligent comments on this comment board.

    August 12, 2008 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  6. Seth

    McCain scares me, his recent statements about Russia, that he wants the USA to confront Russia is bordering on lunacy. Doesn't he know about M.A.D? I think he figures if we have a nuclear exchange some of us MIGHT survive so he can claim victory.
    McCain belligerent statements about Russian leaders are fuel to the fire. We don't need World War 3.

    Obama did the right thing, telling Russia and Georgia to begin talks, and not making any belligerent statements that would tie the hands of the current President.
    Luckily President Sarkozy followed Obama's suggestion, and now the two sides are talking.

    August 12, 2008 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  7. Jon

    Obama lovers need to give it up. Putin is a dictator. McCain is speaking truth and fact. The fact that your canidate is an inexperienced fool who Putin would walk all over should not influence how we all as Americans should deal wit this ex-KGB murdering dictator. We as a nation need to show that we are united in the fact that what both Russia and Georgia are doing is wrong. To say McCain only wants WWIII is the most idiotic things I have heard out of you uneducated misinformed fools yet. GROW UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    August 12, 2008 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  8. Ryan

    Wow what an embecile old goon this McCain guy is proving himself to be. Trying so hard to sound tough and an expert on foreign policy when he doesn't even know basic geography...i.e the non-existent border between Iraq and Afghanistan, the splitting up of Czchekoslavakia, difference between Sunnis and Sheits etc etc.....

    August 12, 2008 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  9. NEIL

    There is one thing about Mc cain and Bush and that is that they are both hypocrits. The one thing about hypocrits, and it is always true; hypocrits are ALWAYS liars.

    August 12, 2008 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  10. The Observer

    = = = for crying out aloud, Mr McWar, will you stop saying “my friends”, “my friends”, “my friends”, “my friends” !!!!!! You are not my friend.

    August 12, 2008 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  11. Jim

    I am writing in Hillary Rodham Clinton for president on November 4, 2008.

    Maybe now you know why.

    August 12, 2008 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  12. Paul Dobro

    I think all can agree Russia is being restored and America is no longer in a possition, either diplomatically or militarily, to stand up against it since we have spent the last 6 years in a war we should have never been in. Imagine all the options we would have now without the Iraq mess of lies. Bush is not repsonding because he has no options for response other then "please stop".

    McCain and Bush put us into this mess, Obama is the only option out.

    Choose McCain and just keeping digging the hole deeper.

    August 12, 2008 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  13. Kara

    Will the lights go out in Georgia?...McCain will send in our American troops to save the day, heck, with McCain we can save everybody...just ask him. He'll stop at nothing even if it takes him 100 years. It's a pity that people are falling for McCain...only flag-draped coffins coming home will Americans wake up. I hope it's not too late.

    August 12, 2008 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  14. Dr.Mimi De La Cruz for OBAMA







    August 12, 2008 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  15. White-African American Military BRAT

    Here we go.....WWIII

    Can't let that PIPE LINE get away!!

    And who died and made the Cheshire Cat president, anyway?

    Mc(walking)Cane should keep his mouth shut and deal with his own problems.

    We already Occupy enough countries at the expense of the US tax payer.


    August 12, 2008 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  16. Colin -- Southern California

    LOL! President Bush 'warned' Russia to stop their attacks on Georgia... Or what? We're going to war with Russia? We're going to impose economic sanctions on Russia? LOL! Not likely!

    And McCain talking tough, too? Sheesh!

    And what did the president of France, Nicolas Sarkozy, do today? He met with Russian president Dmitry Medvedev and helped produce a list of terms for a peace agreement. Russia has stopped fighting and has withdrawn troops to the border. The peace might not endure, because the reason for the dispute has not been resolved, but the fact is that the president of France helped end the immediate violence.

    How did Bush's approach to this matter help? How did McCain's tough words make a difference?

    Meanwhile, Obama likely decided that he is not currently in a position to enter in to negotiations with foreign governments, but his fundamental principles include "preferring diplomacy to aggression" and "not excluding parties from negotiations". As president, Obama would likely have the kinds of successes in negotiating peace agreements as the president of France had today. That's the kind of president our country needs. We can't win the "war on terror", because anyone can choose to become a terrorist; but we *can*, through *constructive* and *peaceful* methods, reduce the conditions that give rise to terrorism. McCain, and people who believe in neo-conservative principles, cannot hope to promote lasting peace and prosperity in the world. You can't fight fire with fire without casting embers. The approach that Obama advocates is the only one that can succeed in the long term.

    August 12, 2008 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  17. Veteran for Obama

    McCains top advisor is a lobbyist for Georgia who made millions in helping to build up their military from the U.S. The United Stated helped to provoke this conflict with the help of McCain and his foreign relations advisor Randy Scheunemann who lobbied for Georgia.

    McCain is as corrupt as they get.

    August 12, 2008 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  18. Your Post's Against McCain are Uselss

    You guys really don't get it. Is it warmongering to be on guard against an obvious threat in Russia? It would be irresponsible of a president not to consider all the options.

    August 12, 2008 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  19. Nando, Florida


    August 12, 2008 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  20. Chris

    Wow, this is the first accurate thing that McCain as said throughout the campaign (well, unless Pakistan annexed Iran without my knowledge of it). Keep it up, McCain, and you might only lose by a little.

    Obama '08

    August 12, 2008 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  21. Leslie

    BE AFRAID, BE VERY AFRAID.....By John McCain and George W. Bush. Wake-up America, we should be afraid of ourselves!

    TIME FOR CHANGE.......OBAMA in 2008!

    August 12, 2008 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  22. Mike, Syracuse, NY

    before the invasion of Georgia, people were making fun of McCain's hard line with Russia, saying it was a throwback to the Cold War. Well, now Russia has invaded and crushed a neighbor, and you brian dead Obamanots can't see he's been right all along. Maybe Obama will hold hands with Putin and sing Kumbaya and solve the whole thing.

    August 12, 2008 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  23. SKS - West Des Moines, IA

    Hey know we can always invade Russia. We can finally avenge the beatings and humiliation you suffered in the hands of communist vietnam as a POW right? After all, we are the USA. No wonder you don't understand anything but bomb...bomb...bomb!

    August 12, 2008 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  24. Dem

    My children will NOT fight a war for John McCain if I can help it!

    Obama '08

    August 12, 2008 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  25. Stephen H

    To Mike, TX and Typical White Person

    Both of you two are idiots. How does tearing down Obama make McCain more attractive? I think both of you are nothing more than a couple of Republican plants attempting to stir up division. How is it that Mike from Texas can consistent post on every topic logged here on this website? Because thats what he's being paid to do. Fellow Dems, please do not be deceived by these feeble tactics and ignore these attempts to divide us from those on the right. Both Mike of Texas and Typical White Person should get a life.

    August 12, 2008 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
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