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. Faramarz Fathi

    The time has arrived for this old horse to be put out to pasture permanently.

    Faramarz Fathi

    June 25, 2013 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  2. David

    I can't really get on McCain's case about all this because I have no clue what he is saying. He didn't mention one specific thing he wants to do that would represent "dealing with Putin in a realistic fashion". Without outlining what exactly he means the whole thing sounds like a hissy fit because Russia won't do what we want.

    The funny part is that if someone exposed a massive government surveillance effort being run by Putin in Russia we would likely harbor them in the U.S.

    June 25, 2013 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  3. Dan Watt

    It seems to me that the American powers that be think that they can do anything they want in the interests of "security". John McCain should retire to his rocking chair and read the funny papers.

    June 25, 2013 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  4. nick

    What does Snowden have to do with Syria, Iran and nuclear weapons?
    "Putin is dreaming of the days of the Russian empire" says the guy who clearly didn't get the memo that the cold war is over...

    June 25, 2013 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  5. Say what?

    Who you gonna beat up now, Senator McCain? McCain's doctor should reduce or terminate his prescription for Androgel for the old fool.

    June 25, 2013 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  6. John Levit

    What are you nuts? Just what the hell does John want the US to do? Start a war with Russia over some guy? Since when is war just a word to throw around? Specially with Russia? Sorry to break your bubble people but the US is no way the world anymore. McCain won't say anything to Putin but need others to say it for him. McCain you old, war loving senior, go retire already I think dementia is starting to kick in.

    June 25, 2013 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  7. Real American

    Wonder if CNN should start screening the IP address of posters to get an idea of the country of origin....no way there could be so many anit-american posts. That would be an interesting aritcle – Chinese and Russian's pose as Americans on comment boards to sway public opinion in the USA.

    June 25, 2013 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  8. Joe

    My god, what a feeble old man. Give Putin as much of this country's effort as he deserves. NONE. Kerry is working back channels to deal with Snowden's alleged treason without this erupting into more free international face time for idiot Putin. Warmonger McCain wouldn't know subtle, educated diplomacy from a whole in the ground. No, he just wants adversarial skirmishes that do nothing but benefit anemic despots like Putin. Yo, grandpa. We don't have the money or the stomach to wage battles in every country on the face of the earth. Ask for a foreign policy briefing or step off, old man.

    June 25, 2013 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  9. impact0900

    I bet Putin is saying it's time to get tough on McCain.

    June 25, 2013 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  10. Billy B.

    Putin is a problem, The cold war is back and we should show the world that we can out produce our enemy's and build up our military so big that know on will mess with us. A military build up we send a message to Putin and also help to stimulate economic growth.

    June 25, 2013 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  11. moonraker

    Typical republican, fight, fight, fight! McCain is so tiresome – he's an angry old fart (like most of the GOP).

    June 25, 2013 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  12. AlexanderE81

    The people of Arizona need to get tough on McCain and throw the old chicken hawk out of office in the next election.

    June 25, 2013 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  13. MazeAndBlue

    John McCain should go quietly into the good night.

    June 25, 2013 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  14. jag the idiot!??

    @Keith John McCain can go fight with the rebels aka Al Qaeda in syria and he can go and bring him back if he thinks he is the tough guy! McCain can keep barking but the truth we can do nothing.

    June 25, 2013 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  15. Observer974

    Keith, the topic is of a Russian tyrant vs. an American tyrant. We'll leave it to the Russian's to deal with their tyrant. We need to deal with our tyrants, crooks, corrupt gasbags and treasonous swine. And that DOES describe that senile fool McCain and his sidekicks Obama, Bloomberg, Feinstein, Reid, Cheney, and all of those other fuzzy minded globalization neocons.

    June 25, 2013 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  16. jag the idiot!?

    @Keith John McCain can go fight with the rebels aka Al Qaeda in syria and he can go and bring him back if he thinks he is the tough guy! McCain can keep barking but the truth we can do nothing!

    June 25, 2013 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  17. Alan

    Putin lovers are Jews. Jews just mad because Mccain said he wanted to help Syrians.

    June 25, 2013 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  18. MazeAndBlue

    If it was up to John McCain we would be fighting in Iran, Irag, Syria, China and Russia.

    June 25, 2013 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  19. Loathstheright

    Yeah, John, what are you going to do, shake your fist at him and tell him to get off your lawn....go away.

    June 25, 2013 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  20. erik

    "I simply don’t understand how the most powerful nation on earth ends up groveling to a second rate nation such as Russia? "

    Oh, its very simple. Let me explain- BEFORE we starting wasting our military strength on 2 wars of occupation (which by definition, can never be won), we were only the 3rd strongest military power on Earth. If you believe otherwise, you watch too much TV.

    June 25, 2013 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  21. Time to be USA

    Let's nuke Putin!

    June 25, 2013 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  22. behaviorquest

    Someone needs to let John know that no one cares what he thinks about anything anymore.

    June 25, 2013 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  23. Real American

    Faramarz Fathi

    You are the exception...and judging by your name hardly what i would consider to be an American in the first place.

    June 25, 2013 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  24. Alan

    I should stop reading comments on articles. Most of you make me really worry about the future of America(Assuming that the majority of posters are American, which may not be the case)

    June 25, 2013 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  25. Adam

    I wish we could arrange for Obama, McCain and Putin to walk into an octagon cage. Than he would really hand it to these imbeciles.

    June 25, 2013 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
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