June 25th, 2013
08:05 AM ET
10 years ago

McCain: Time to get tough with Putin

(CNN) – The time for gentle diplomacy with Russia's President Vladimir Putin has passed, Sen. John McCain asserted in an interview Tuesday.

Calling the Russian leader an "old KGB colonel apparatchik that dreams of the days of the Russian empire," McCain said on CNN's "New Day" the U.S. should take a tougher position with Putin, who has also opposed western plans to arm rebels battling Syria's President Bashar al-Assad.

"We've got to start dealing with Vladimir Putin in a realistic fashion," McCain told Chris Cuomo.

The most recent break in the U.S.-Russia relationship came Sunday, when it's believed NSA leaker Edward Snowden flew from Hong Kong to Moscow as he avoids apprehension on U.S. espionage charges.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov claimed at a news conference Tuesday his country has "nothing to do with Mr. Snowden, or his movements around the world," and that accusations against Russia over harboring Snowden are "absolutely groundless and unacceptable."

Those remarks did little to placate McCain, who countered it was "well known" that Snowden is in Russia.

"It's reminiscent of the days of the Cold War when you hear a Russian spokesman saying that he's not in Russia, when every shred of evidence indicates that he is," said the Arizona Republican and 2008 GOP presidential nominee, who also faulted President Barack Obama for not taking a firmer line with Russia on Syria and Iran.

"When you withdraw to fortress America, when you believe in light footprints, when you show the world you're leading from behind, these are the consequences of American leadership," McCain said, adding "That does not mean confrontation, but steadfast adherence to the principles many presidents since the Cold War and before have stood for that the rest of the world will respect."

As for Putin, McCain said there were deeper problems entrenched in the Russian leader's outlook on the world.

Putin "has disdain for democracy and the things we stand for and believe in," McCain said, before referencing the allegation from last week that Putin stole a Super Bowl ring from the owner of the New England Patriots (Putin's spokesman later said it was a gift).

"If he sees a situation he'll take advantage of it. Anybody that takes somebody's Super Bowl ring has got to be not exactly like us," he said.

Filed under: John McCain • Russia
soundoff (586 Responses)
  1. eugene

    John, nobody in Russia paying any attention to what you have to say. You say big words that mean nothing. John, I know you are imperialistic warmonger who has the dream of building military bases around the world for the fake slogan of democracy. Are you satisifed with arming terrorists in Syria?

    June 26, 2013 01:37 am at 1:37 am |
  2. KingBob16

    Americans: Time for McCain to shut up and go into retirement.

    June 26, 2013 01:39 am at 1:39 am |
  3. Barry Barry Barry

    Putin 2016!

    June 26, 2013 01:57 am at 1:57 am |
  4. voiceoftruthusa

    "Putin "has disdain for democracy and the things we stand for and believe in," McCain said"

    So does Congress and the White House

    June 26, 2013 02:06 am at 2:06 am |
  5. mike johnson

    ... there is no fool like an old fool ... time to hang 'em up John

    June 26, 2013 02:52 am at 2:52 am |
  6. Deimos

    McCain is nuts... doing much cocaine, McCain? breaking ties w/ China? If China pulls out their export to U.S. the stores will be instantly empty!!! Russia also offers a lot of resources to U.S. and Europe. Snowden just tried to help open up American people's eyes on whats going on.

    June 26, 2013 04:39 am at 4:39 am |
  7. M.A.P.

    Why isn't anybody talking about McCain's obvious links to the weapon manufacturing industry and army? Hello Americans!!! McCain has some very selfish reasons for this constant attemps to start a conflict with ANYONE who'll bite. He want you to send your kids to die in the middle east for someone else's war so that HE CAN MAKE MONEY FOR HIMSELF AND HIS FRIENDS. If you can't see it then you might as well vote SArah Palin as the next President.

    June 26, 2013 05:19 am at 5:19 am |

    President Obama is too smart to listen to McDoofus. As soon as he sent troops to get Snowden, the extremist wingnuts would scream that he is a Socialist dictator.

    June 26, 2013 06:34 am at 6:34 am |
  9. omz

    as if McCain (or indeed anyone else) wouldnt steal a superbowl ring at the first opportunity.

    June 26, 2013 06:47 am at 6:47 am |
  10. Thomas McElroy

    McCain is old, tired, insane, power hungry, sick, mentally challenged and has rested on his laurels as a POW. He gave information to the North Vietnamese during the Vietnam war in exchange for prostitutes. Come on now...

    June 26, 2013 07:33 am at 7:33 am |
  11. Ted Mack

    John Mccain – isn't he the traitor who was shot down in Viet Nam while bombing innocent civilians and ended up spilling his guts to the enemy while in prison camp? Oh yeah, then when he came back he divorced his injured wife who had faithfully waited for him and married a rich dumb blonde bimbo. Gotta love those Republican politicians.

    June 26, 2013 07:43 am at 7:43 am |
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