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. U.S. Citizen

    McCain is working for whom?

    It seems that there two Oligarchies at odds here.
    The one that rules Russia and the one the has besieged the U.S. government.

    Seriously, I believe that McCain and Obama are co-conspirators play the American people.

    In the next two elections it is essential that the American People choose our Representation instead of deferring to the two political sororities that are being played against us.

    June 25, 2013 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  2. chungking1

    Just look up the facts about Songbird McCain by looking up his history during the Vietnam War where he served as the camp snitch in the POW camp and colluded with his Communist masters in Hanoi. Of course, he claims he was coerced to be the snitch under the threat of torture but many of the men in the Hanoi Hilton allege he received preferential treatment by his North Vietnamese captors. Wonder why he never talks about his activities in Hanoi and his stabbing the backs of his fellow American pilots. Talk about that McCain.

    June 25, 2013 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  3. Chris

    I really wish McCain would go away.

    June 25, 2013 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  4. lightseeker

    He keeps living off off his war record; well the jig is up. We don't want you around capital hill anymore, so go home and take care of that hot wife of yours, or I will.

    June 25, 2013 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  5. bill davis

    Get tough with Putin. Hmm, how do you suggest that John McCain. Putin, if you don't turn over Snowden it's war? Or Putin if you don't give me the traitor we'll cut you off. Actually, Snowden doesn't have a clue who he's dealing with. When Putin continues to poke him with a cattle prod Snowden will be begging to come back to America. I'm beginning to believe the likes of Karl Rove may have hired Snowden to embarrass Obama at the risk of harming America.

    June 25, 2013 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  6. John Tucker

    McCain is a disgrace to both parties.

    June 25, 2013 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  7. Eyes Wide Open

    I have an idea. How about the U.S. stops bullying every other country on the planet into "working with them" and respect the sovereignty of other countries? The U.S. Government is is nothing but criminals and traitors to the American people. Believe it or not, they are not in control of this entire planet. Remember when this country was a beacon of freedom and democracy? Those days are long gone...

    June 25, 2013 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  8. Jimmy G

    This is a good reason I did not vote for McCain "the Hot Head",The guy would start World War three if he had the chance.Remember ,Russia has as many nukes as we got..

    June 25, 2013 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  9. Butters

    Didn't anyone see the Southpark Episode that already disclosed all of this???

    June 25, 2013 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  10. PushingBack

    Yeah, I'm sure that's going to work!

    June 25, 2013 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  11. Julie

    Uh ohh, someone has gone and woke up grandpa again. He's not going to be happy about this. Maybe someone should remind him that our country has given asylum to spies, defectors and politically persecuted people from Russia and China for decades. You know, maybe the old adage "its a two way street", might apply.

    June 25, 2013 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  12. Guest

    We are the new laughing stock of the world.

    June 25, 2013 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  13. Orus Apollo

    Who gives a care in the world over a Super Bowl ring. Honestly avoiding war like conflict is more important than a Super Bowl ring. Hate to break it to ya. If you cant get Putin to see eye to eye with you, then its obviously time you change your tactic. not get negative about it and thwart the guy. You have to be able to understand from his perspectives as well.

    June 25, 2013 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  14. Super Poodle Kicker

    McCain can take up the charge himself otherwise he needs to keep his fat mouth shut!!

    June 25, 2013 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  15. Michael Benjamin

    Since McCain can't get us into a war in Syria maybe he can stoke one up with Russia.

    June 25, 2013 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  16. Johnny Bandana

    Let's see you try to topple Putin, Mr. McCain.

    June 25, 2013 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  17. Anonymous

    If it was up to McCain we would be in escalated war efforts across the world. Common sense and having all facts before spouting off with the US War-Machine all the time does not help move things in positive directions.

    June 25, 2013 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  18. Insane Dude

    Insane McCain spouting his rhetoric. Putin is the least of our worries, right now we have to worry about 11 million unskilled peasants that will be overwhelming our healthcare system when the Amnesty Bill passes not to mention the next wave of illegals making the job market worse than it already is. The sad part is I don’t blame Obama or McCain, I blame us the American idiots that voted for these power mongers.

    June 25, 2013 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  19. www

    Putin appreciates winning the super bowl ... and diamonds (lots of it).

    June 25, 2013 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  20. allen

    Russia thinks they are cute.

    June 25, 2013 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  21. david asleep

    War monger. . .McCain. A life long professional politician . An old man left over from a group of rich people who supported dropping A-bombs and keeping the world at war. He needs to retire to one of his nine houses. Or better yet a nursing home.

    June 25, 2013 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  22. Thomas

    The Orange has already been juiced ,

    And Snowden didn't give up much juice , this is more symbolic and about face.

    He will want to return to the US , it's a mater of time .

    June 25, 2013 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  23. Floyd from Illinois

    McCain is the ultimate one-tool carpenter, and he sees every problem, indeed every happening, as a nail.

    June 25, 2013 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  24. BeverlyNC

    Putin or Palin? McCain gets confused a lot and rants for one position and then the next day forgets and rants for the opposite position. I guess McCain wants to start another Cold War so he can demand more military build-up again.

    June 25, 2013 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  25. Hugh Jass

    Thanks to everyone who didn't elect this loony warhawk president. Seriously, thank you. Just look at him.

    June 25, 2013 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
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