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. ?

    mccain should really be an admiral and not a politician, if he was president we would have a draft and ww3 at our feet, but i will tell you what putin is by no stretch of the imagination one of the smartest men in the world, he will make russia great again, my question though is why did we even have the stupid cold war, why shouldn't the super powers ally with each other rather than always fighting

    June 25, 2013 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  2. Kathy

    McSame needs to realize - this isn't the 1950's anymore.

    June 25, 2013 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |

    Putin is a monster but I do hope Snowden finds Asylum there.

    June 25, 2013 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  4. jg51

    Calling the Russian leader an "old KGB colonel apparatchik that dreams of the days of the Russian empire,"

    Senator McCain needs to look in the mirror before he starts calling anyone old. As to his comment regarding Putin having "dreams of the days of the Russian empire", let's be honest. Mr. McCain has dreams the US jumping into the middle of every conflict around the world, no matter how many lives are lost.

    June 25, 2013 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  5. ART

    Since John Mc Cain has obviously lost control of his faculties let me appeal to his sensible daughter Mehgan, Please try to control or silence your poor old decrepit father I think his depends needs to be changed

    June 25, 2013 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  6. The Emissary

    You know, the US is really showing its hypocritical roots with this whole Snowden Catch-me-if-you-Can episode. How can our national leaders (people who We the People so ignorantly keep electing) go on TV and say these bullying statements on how these other sovereign countries better do what we say or there will be dire consequences. Our government wrote the manual (and continues to add addendums when it sees fit) on how to do what the hell it wants until it gets caught and then dishes out retractions and/or apologies. It makes me sick to my stomach reading all these articles how our government officials are condemning China, Hong Kong, and Russia for not handing over Snowden and warning all other nations that they best corporate, or else. Or else what? Exactly. They are doing classic politico movements by turning the attention away from the real issue – – stop freaking spying on everybody!!

    June 25, 2013 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  7. boyamidumb

    Isn't it ironic that to protect his right to "blow the whistle" on a United States government that is out of control, that a man had to escape TO Russia?

    It can't happen here?

    June 25, 2013 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  8. Dominican mama 4 Obama


    "For the record, last I heard the seals killed UBL and those fools on a boat. The Lybians killed Kaddafi..."
    That comment was beneath you Steveo and placed you in the same padded cell with tom l, just sayin' and the "usual suspects".
    Shame really, because I mistakenly thought that you were one of those old time Republicans one could have a resonable conversation with.

    June 25, 2013 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  9. Hamburger Jones

    "Snowden is a hero in my book" He exposed stuff that we all knew was going on anyway, and then spilled everything he knew to the Chinese and Russians. He knew the penalty for that was death, and we will execute him for treason. Frankly I don't think what he revealed was worth his life, but it was his choice.

    June 25, 2013 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  10. boyamidumb

    One more question Mr. McCain – why are we supporting extremist Muslim rebels who will immediately turn on us and provide another safe haven for people trying to do us harm???

    Who's side are you on anyway. Remember Palin? She still doing damage that you allowed by giving her a national platform.

    June 25, 2013 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  11. Dmitriy Lychev

    the dogs bark, but the caravan goes on

    June 25, 2013 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  12. ALLuh

    The ole whistlin' tooth war mongerer is the poster boy for term limits. Get in a box John, it is time.

    June 25, 2013 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  13. mike s

    Hey McCain, why don't you fly to Russia and put Putin in his place? Like Putin said: (you are) like shearing a piglet, a lot of squealing and very little wool.

    June 25, 2013 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  14. John

    Surprise, McCain wants to send in groundtroops. What a disaster of a leader this clown would have been, Picking Palin was not an accident, stupid is all he knows.

    June 25, 2013 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  15. John Stone

    Russia has one of their strongest leaders in office, and America her weakest ever. Sadly because of our poor leadership this is not going to end up well for us...

    June 25, 2013 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  16. John

    "Senator McCain is right on money. Thank you Senator." Lets hope it is your kids sent into the next Republican war.

    June 25, 2013 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  17. kgala

    "The time for gentle diplomacy with Russia's President Vladimir Putin has passed, Sen. John McCain asserted in an interview Tuesday."
    He's gonna get us killed!

    June 25, 2013 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  18. Nomad

    Hey McCain, how about you take your big mouth to Russia and have a drinking contest with Putin. Last man standing gets Snowden.

    June 25, 2013 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  19. kgala

    Ray Gun would not approve of the McCain wanting to restart the Cold War.

    June 25, 2013 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  20. scott

    get tough??? ok sen mccain, get tough how???

    June 25, 2013 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  21. Gurgyl

    Very pathetic war mongrels–republican way of failures...

    June 25, 2013 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  22. So what

    Snowden is already in Prison, and he will be the rest of his Life. He lived in Hawaii, now he lives in a Russian Airport. SURFS-UP

    June 25, 2013 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  23. Gopherit

    One of the revelations emerging from Snowden's exposure of PRISM may well be that McCain's private communications also were monitored and recorded. Since McCain's latest diatribe is about Russia's involvement in Snowden's escape from McCain's obvious intent to crucify him that outcome would amount to ironic justice.

    June 25, 2013 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  24. fastball

    McCain's not entirely wrong.
    Putin is still, at heart, a KGB thug – although a better dressed one. He like nothing better than tweaking the tail of the tiger – that is, being a real PITA to America – because he thinks that gives him mega-doses of whatever passes for street cred in Russia. To his way of thinking, America's had it her way for a real long time...and now it's Mother Russia's turn. They've got oil, gas and tons of natural resources to export. However, the average Russian over 50 years old is as stupid as a box of rocks...and now, when they have to actually WORK for a living, they yearn for a return of Uncle Josef – when they didn't have to think to get food and housed. Vodka and cigarettes are still the staple of currency in Russia.

    June 25, 2013 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  25. LiqMat

    Thank God this man was not elected President.

    June 25, 2013 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
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