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. TY

    I misread the headline as "Time to get rough with Palin." I almost had a hard attack, I would have ran down the block naked...........

    June 25, 2013 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  2. maskddingo

    McCain must go. Threats are not how you conduct deplomacy. His words have damaged our relations with Russia more than any other part of this scandel. Its long past time these guys who don't know how to act like they arent still in highschool lose their jobs.

    June 25, 2013 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  3. disguyhere


    you gotta love that mantra.... please go away mister mccain

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

    "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."

    Damn straight!

    June 25, 2013 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  5. Paul Williamson

    We'll show him..if Putin doesn't give him up the US will nuke both Russia and China. and start and end WW III in an hour..whats several billion fatalities and an uninhabitable earth compared to catching Snowden. Maybe we should send McCain over to catch him..

    June 25, 2013 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  6. VancCanadian

    Intelligent, realistic, worldly-wise people who have spent the most time with him on this issue say this has been a sacrifice for him, and that his motives are not self-promotion.

    Hard to believe I'm sure with for a country with mostly superficial 'hollywood values'. But there is such a thing as altruism ... you probably just can't relate to it.

    June 25, 2013 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  7. John

    Why did anyone ever think that China or Russia could be or "friends" They are both guilty of killing tens of thousands of Americans in Korea and Vietnam. To bad we can't send all our CEOs to China for sending all our jobs there.

    June 25, 2013 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  8. sally

    Let's not start WWIII over Snowden. Obama is intelligent enough to know that...McCain simply wants to pop off...get his name on the air, make himself feel important. There isn't a thing Obama can do but what he is doing...going through legal channels to get Snowden back. It isn't going to work....Putin is getting even for the embargo on arms to Syria which the West put on his shipment way back when.

    June 25, 2013 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  9. Jil

    Let McAin be...we've got a much larger problem here _ is snowden traitor or hero?

    June 25, 2013 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  10. Goran

    McCain?! Maybe cartoon figure would be a better analysis of this "honest" man!

    June 25, 2013 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  11. Anonymous

    how would it look if our politicians took sides with Snowden?!

    June 25, 2013 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  12. rozika

    how would it look if our politicians took sides w/Snowden?!

    June 25, 2013 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  13. black hawk

    with mccain as pres ww3 will come with every powerful nation fighting

    June 25, 2013 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  14. Jason

    Yeah, right, McCain.
    Hitler also felt confident he could beat the Russians at Stalingrad.
    Didn't work.

    June 25, 2013 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  15. skytag

    Sometimes in discussions someone on the right will snidely ask, "So, are you still glad you voted for Obama?"

    Whenever that happens I immediately think of this man and his hot but clueless running mate in 2008 and say "yes."

    June 25, 2013 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  16. Clemenza

    Obama is a joke. Obama says Assad must go and Russia ships him arms. Obama says Iran must give up their nukes and Russia ignores sanctions, Obama says Russia must give up Snowden and Putin says yeah right. Obama is the weakest President in US history, He makes Carter look like Churchill. Putin must laugh himself to bed every night looking at a picture of Obama.

    June 25, 2013 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  17. get real

    McCain is just a senile Old Fart. Plus he's a republican and can't be trusted. He wants to start a War with Russia over this?

    June 25, 2013 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  18. robert

    Blah, Blah, Blah. Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah. Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah. The sounds of a worn out, tired Washington. Puhleez! John McCain: King of the World.

    June 25, 2013 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  19. Complete ignorance

    I was liking Cuomo's start at CNN. However, after listening to him feed into McCain's war-mongering nonsense – I've changed my mind. It's one thing to talk that confrontational nonsense with military inferior countries – but we're talking about Russia. Of course, Russia isn't that crazy – not far from it though. But, let's not encourage a confrontation that would change the face of the planet and expedite human missions to Mars. In essence, don't open a can of worms no one can control.

    June 25, 2013 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  20. Black Dynamite

    The U.S. is afraid of Russia, and China, and everybody knows it.
    Everybody is laughing at the U.S>, because it's obvious that the U.S. is scared.
    What a joke!

    They can't bully them like they bully U.S. Citizens....

    June 25, 2013 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  21. cheisking

    War hoo yea.. What is it good for? Absolutely nothing

    June 25, 2013 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  22. SecrtSqurll

    Once again, the GOP trying to bully the world with threats instead of negotiations.

    June 25, 2013 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  23. nadinelockhart

    McCain has issues; he's determined to undermine Obama in any way possible by 1) taking opposite position 2) getting us into another war. He doesn't even HAVE to undermine Obama, it's happening on its own. McCain has been in office way too long–not about age or time, but about someone who has lost abilities, which in his case, has never had. McCain hater?? No, but he's carpetbagged my state (AZ) long enough and is proud he's never "helped" it, has hidden agendas like nobody's business, and he personal life is a sham (not that it matters, but it does illustrate lack of integrity).

    June 25, 2013 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  24. jeremy

    I would agree with the "send McCain over to get him" stance, but the last time the US military sent McCain on a mission he failed, was captured, and gave up US info, sooooo probably not the best idea to send McCowardSingingRat to Russia.

    June 25, 2013 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  25. Abc

    McCain talks about getting tough on almost anything...
    He's a good guy but he's too old for the new world order...

    June 25, 2013 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
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