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. John

    Let's be realistic and not listen to the lovers of President Obama who seem to be writing here, Obama is really a simpleton who does not understand world politics - McCain does. Obama, who has not done anything while in the Senate and whose only credentials is that of a Community Organizer has been voted into office (could be through fraud) due to the Liberals pumping up his minute credentials. It is time for the American people to know the truth about Obama who has only been on the road for the destruction of the American way of life!

    June 25, 2013 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  2. Jim

    I respect Senator McCain as a Senator and a Vet. But it time to get out of the 1950's and 1960's. The world is a different place today and we(the USA) need to move on from the years where we thought we could police the world. We are already doing too much of this today. The US has it own issues that we need to take care of here at home, like jobs, debt, etc. Time to pay more attention to our country and bring our service men and women home to re build our country.

    June 25, 2013 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  3. jim

    As usual, McCain has said nothing specific. So, what does he propose that we do to deal with Putin in a, "more realistic fashion"? Why doesn't he just say, "Whatever Obama does, I don't agree with it" ?

    I'll predict that before he leaves office, McCain will be sitting next to Palin as a Faux "News" contributor (shill).

    June 25, 2013 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  4. Steveo

    @Rudy NYC


    You really want to give the worst president in the history of this great nation credit for the deaths of UBL, Kaddafi and those ignorant idiots hijackers? What a bigger fool you are than the President! This country is just one step away from becoming the laughing stock of the world as we were once upon time under Carter.

    For the record, last I heard the seals killed UBL and those fools on a boat. The Lybians killed Kaddafi and then turned around killed Americans while Obama and Clinton stood by and did nothing!
    The Libyans in Benghazi that killed our ambassador are probably some of the same people that McCain met with when he made his secret trip to Benghazi at the start of the Libyan uprising. Forgot about that one, didn't you?
    PROBABLY? Either you know or you don't, I'm leaning towards you don't, just like almost of us don't! So how PROBABLY an argument?

    June 25, 2013 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  5. Bill Hannegan

    McCain is a nice guy but unfortunately another Republican with great ideas but no concrete plans.

    What specific steps does he want taken against Russia? Russia is a security council member. They can single handedly cut our foreign strategy off at the knees. Right now we need them a lot more than they need us. The only reason the planet is in one piece after that idiot Reagan, is Gorbachev had the patience and discipline to back out of the peeing contest.

    June 25, 2013 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  6. bill

    McCain, you couldn't even get tough with Palin when she single handily wrecked your presidential campaign, so you sure as hell have absolutely ZERO credibility in talking about getting tough with a foreign president, or anyone for that matter.

    June 25, 2013 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  7. bill

    Hey McCain, why don't you, Putin and Palin all go crawl in a hole together.

    June 25, 2013 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  8. Delos

    And Putin starting acting this way as soon as he met the dingbat G.W. Bush and Bush looked in his eyes and saw a man of god, I'm willing to bet as soon as dummy left the Krimilin Vlaid turned to the boy and said is this guy for real and all bets or off. And he's said f@@@ US every since. Can you blame him.

    June 25, 2013 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  9. rs

    McCain is right- it is time to get tough. Not with the Russians- with the GOP. These idiots have done their fair share of damage to the U.S. Vote them out or jail them for treason.

    June 25, 2013 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  10. Bob

    While many of Putin's actions are frustrating, in what way can we really "get tough with him"? What kind of real leverage do we have with Russia? Perhaps McCain is suggesting we try sanctions or threaten military action against Russia. Yeah right!!

    June 25, 2013 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  11. SlvrSrfr

    Maybe he'll make a surprise visit to Moscow, and get lost!

    June 25, 2013 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  12. Ehsan

    Mr. McCain..if Putin has to run against you... he will get twice as many votes as u and Romney combined.... He is by far more popular among Americans than u

    June 25, 2013 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  13. Crystal

    Putin has been president for years it seems.

    June 25, 2013 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  14. davecu

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

    Mr. Putin, give back that ring!

    June 25, 2013 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  15. brian

    Demand compliance will only cause embarrass US further. I am shocked by the skilled POLITICIANS who are good at nothing but politics to fail to apply politics to get what they want. Get real and don't believe for a moment that you can order Russia around.

    June 25, 2013 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  16. Ross

    Early signs of Alzheimer?

    June 25, 2013 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  17. Our Tiny Earth

    It's time to put McCain into a nursing home. He's out of his mind.

    June 25, 2013 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  18. sam adler

    I used to respect Mr. McCain but of late he shows his nasty other side, a war monger. After Syria's internal condition is about to cool off with a government that is not of our concern, he travels to Syria and comes back demanding support for the so called rebels. Now he wants US to be tough with Putin. A war monger or what!! Mr. McCain is an old man and I think he enjoyed enough years in the lime light and should seriously retire and find a spot in Florida with the rest of the Q-tips !

    June 25, 2013 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  19. Larry

    I agree with so many of the comments here – When is McCain going to get the message? Shut up – retire – stay out of sight of the American people for the rest of your life. Write books that people of your generation and insight will read – both of them:)

    June 25, 2013 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  20. GregoryWV

    What does McCain want the US or the president to do – send Sarah Palin over to Russia to talk stupid to Putin. Maybe she can talk Putin into resigning from office. McCain is a poor excuse for a US Senator – nothing but a War Hawk that wants the US to get into another war so his Republican buddies and financial supporters can make more money making military hardware!

    June 25, 2013 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  21. johnny1111

    Hey, we can't even get astronauts to the Space Station without Russia's help.

    June 25, 2013 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  22. J

    Thank goodness McCain has no real power.

    June 25, 2013 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  23. Sister Valium

    And what would Mr. McCain be saying if the shoe was on the other foot, if we had their Snowden and didn't turn him over when asked? Who are we to tell other countries what to do? We don't like it when it's done to us.

    June 25, 2013 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  24. yuri

    Being firm and always employing diplomatic methods might save us all a lot of money and sgony, rather than ratcheting up the rhetoric like a ragin' cowboy, which might leave Russia and China totally unruffled. Those 2 lunatics will continue to do what they like and probably will not give a damn about anybody else.

    June 25, 2013 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  25. Cynic

    McCain is not relevant. He's a crazy warmonger who is way past his sell-by date.

    June 25, 2013 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
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