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. robert

    Why does McCain have a say on anything?

    June 25, 2013 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  2. Anonymous

    this guy wants to twist everyone's wrist.

    June 25, 2013 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  3. Ryan

    Go home McCain – and put your foot in your mouth while you're at it. Old fool.

    June 25, 2013 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  4. dou44

    Hello Senator McCain who has been sucking tax money in Congress since 1983: Get back in your A4(?) and test out how tough Putin is on air defense. You got knocked down dropping bombs on the Vietnamese. You are vintage 1980s Yankee arrogance.

    June 25, 2013 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  5. John Mann

    This is the man who said we could stay in Iraq for 100 more years. Ya, that would make that part of the world hate us even more with all the nasty consequences. What a dinosaur.

    June 25, 2013 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  6. cincinnatidavid

    McCain thinks he knows how to get tough with Putin.

    June 25, 2013 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  7. Paranoid

    McCain is a grumpy old man, ready to pickup fight with the whole world because he knows someone else's son/daughter will fight the war that he is so eager to start. He served in Vietnam alright, but I do not think his kids are in the military.

    June 25, 2013 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  8. An American

    Thank God this guy never made it to the White House.

    June 25, 2013 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  9. paul Kamau

    I agree with McCain somewhat, too many Syrians have died which can be attributed to Putin's support for Assad, Russia has continued to supply nuclear technology and material to the Iranians and the russians should have provided more info on Boston bombers which could have possibly prevented the terrorist act. All in all, the Russians cannot always do what they want them to do it but it is obvious Putin is aligning himself with all the forces against us. Yes, get tough on the dictator

    June 25, 2013 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  10. George Welch

    It is long past time for that old dinosaur to step down and get out of the way. Look at the mess the Bush-Obama White House has caused in the world. When will they wake up? Good on Putin. Hope he continues to take the 800lb gorilla to the mat.

    June 25, 2013 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  11. g sheilds

    .....woa'h,..sure Mr. McCain is excited..can't say that I blaim him but there is something else in all of this..the legitimacy of the publics interest...I personaly am wondering what this is really all about...other then the fact that yes it provides a conduit for further erosion of US dignity in the World..but on the other hand.. every one talks in terms of transperancy.. so from that stand who and or what binds us too the law..certainly they must know something that we'r not supposed too find out,,, is that what all of the hulabalu is about,...I wonder...

    June 25, 2013 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  12. Henry Audey

    We will have to get tough on our friends in Russia.

    June 25, 2013 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  13. Holmes

    John McCain lost, get over it.

    June 25, 2013 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  14. paul Kamau

    There is definitely a leadership Vacuum in the world right now; cant say if it is good or bad at the moment-let's wait and see. Some world actors with try to fill the vacuum making us uncomfortable because we are used to being in charge.

    June 25, 2013 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  15. Charles

    McCain, please just retire. You have caused enough trouble.

    June 25, 2013 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  16. herb666

    There should be a nice quite pasture where old senile politicians can go

    June 25, 2013 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  17. Walter

    Sorry Johnny, the U.S. you remember, where we were the center of the planet and most everyone cowered at our feet, is long gone. We're nothing more than another cog in the global wheel. We can scream and squawk like we used to, but we shouldn't be surprised when nothing comes of it.

    June 25, 2013 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  18. W8a2nd

    Go back to sleep McCain.

    June 25, 2013 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  19. OkieDokie

    Ask Sarah, Senator. She's an expert on Russia; she can see it from her front porch.

    June 25, 2013 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  20. Uniquitous

    Mccain has lost it. Why should be become brutal toward Putin because he has allowed someone that can provide him with intelligence into his web. If we want Snowden back, give the carrot to Snowden, dont bully Putin.

    June 25, 2013 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  21. KevininPHX

    Yawn. John McCain talks and nobody listens. Which is how it should be.

    June 25, 2013 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  22. Nobody

    Nobody's listening, old man.

    June 25, 2013 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  23. bob aussie

    Putin has done more for the betterment of Russia than McCain and his cronies have done for the US. McCain is the "old school" dog of war. That's all he knows. Not a fan of Obama, but thank God this one trick pony never made it into the White House.

    June 25, 2013 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  24. Brian House

    McCain is whacked out.

    June 25, 2013 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  25. Keith

    Wow what is with all the John McCain haters...I am guessing most of these "American" posters are really Russian's in Russia employed by their government to come onto American websites and try to sway public opinion by posting anti-American BS. Because almost all comments are against and American senator vs. a Russian tyrant, and I know Americans are smarter than that.

    June 25, 2013 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
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