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. ST

    Wow! McCain, this is not how diplomacy works. We always try to put a lid especially when we are not 100% sure of the allegation. You must understand that people rejected you with your what you call leading by being infront of the line if not from behind. That was back to 2008 when you were not an option for President. Can you please calm down and let those who were assigned the job, do what is required to put each and everything upright.

    June 25, 2013 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  2. are122

    Putin's absolute disgust and disdain for Obama was apparent at the recent summit. The picture of him and Obama sitting together was hilarious. Until Obama is out of office I doubt Russia will do much of anything but laugh.

    June 25, 2013 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  3. antique-republican

    Mccan dreams of a US worldwide empire.
    Snowden is hero for democracy,openness and disclosure against evil orgs like the CIA

    June 25, 2013 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  4. digusting

    oh you senile, a war monger, a hypocrite person retire from politics, you are taking cheap shot which make you sound like a high school teenage who is in love with Justin Bieber, we do not need you to represent the rest of the America, please do us a favor and retire.

    June 25, 2013 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  5. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House -aka- No Redemption Votes

    OBL – dead
    Kaddafi – dead
    Pirates – dead

    Our President's has cojones of brass. Those of you who says he's weak are just a bunch of haters. You're the same knuckleheads who believed all that BS Bush sold you about WMD.

    June 25, 2013 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  6. Denise

    Another irrelevant war monger from the right! Maybe Mitt can put in his two cents worth also.....

    June 25, 2013 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  7. M.A.P.

    Well I don't think Obama is spineless or whimpy, but we do need to get tougher on Putin and his henchmen. That aside – McCain is of course trying to act like he DID win the presidency in 2008 which is wierd and a little bit sad. Aww poor mccain didn't get to sit in the big xchair, so he's gonna run around and pretend like he has so much influence internationally. Personally those photos in Syria couldn't look more uncomfortable and fake.

    June 25, 2013 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  8. sam

    McCain: Time to get tough with Putin
    Putin: See if I care

    June 25, 2013 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  9. Jemes

    Dear Obama, please kick out McCain out of the senate before he pulls us into some serious problems... All he does is demote our reputation around the world...

    June 25, 2013 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  10. blackhawkmom

    McCain – what is wrong with this man??????????? It is way past time for him to retire.

    June 25, 2013 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  11. Jamey

    If this idiot was Pres we would be in war in N Korea, Syria, and now Russia. To bad he didn't jump on the plane and go hide with Snowjob. I would much rather see light footprints than another thousand american service men and women killed for nothing. Please just shut up and go away already. America has heard enough of your babble.

    June 25, 2013 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  12. Joan

    Snowden may go down in history in a much different way than he expected. He thought he was doing a great thing by exposing classified, security information and trying to discredit the present administration. Now it has snowballed and it is creating unnecessary tension between the US and other superpowers. No good can come of that. He has done irreparable harm. Aligning himself with Assange has added to the suspicion that he has ulterior motives. The US should use the surveillance programs he exposed and check all his previous phone calls, e-mails, etc. for the last few years to see who he is affiliated with, who his contacts were and who was supporting him. He probably was not a lone wolf in this whole issue.

    June 25, 2013 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  13. bh

    how a guy can say that Putin has disdain for democracy (what I don't dispute) while not addressing that democracy in USA is directly attacked by the US government in the name of security. Such a hypocrite. We need a constructive dialogue in this country, some politician willing to do something constructive not just use big words.

    June 25, 2013 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  14. Robert

    from supporting terrorists who are killing and causing Christians to leave the Middle East to butting heads with Russia...What next, asking for a recount why he was not elected president

    June 25, 2013 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  15. Rizengrom

    That old bag should shut up, retire and never come back... Who do you think you are???

    June 25, 2013 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  16. g

    why not give mccain the codes and get world war three going ,then there will be nothing left to fight about

    June 25, 2013 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  17. Realist

    If McCain had gotten tough in the 2008 election, instead of playing his wimp game,we wouldn't be in the effinmess we're in now.

    June 25, 2013 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  18. bspurloc

    the leading from behind is as old as the birth certificate. we are not the world police. that is the United Nations.
    ENOUGH with this bs. fix the infrastructure in the USA not in waste lands

    June 25, 2013 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  19. Phyllis Gwendoline Williams

    "Those who are adding to the terrible disaster of Syria are no better than they. If they are sorry for the tragedy,
    All countries should be seeking a Peace Solution to end this terrible tragedy+++"

    June 25, 2013 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  20. sonkarlay

    I think hes right about this, this guy name and face been every where so they want him to give then information too, americans are the problem for america, if a bomb go off in america we blame the government and say what was the government doing

    June 25, 2013 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  21. Mo

    It is past time for McCain to leave Washington No world powers have respect for the USA anymore. Mr. Obama started his first term out on a world apology tour, and still bows and sells out to other world powers. Too bad, because whether you like him or not, we want our president to look good on a world stage. It isn't just here at home that he looks foolish.

    June 25, 2013 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  22. Chuk

    Yes, why not just invade Russia for now towing along with whatever the U.S wants? The better question is why doesn't someone get tough with that war-monger McCain?
    On the other hand, Russia is a free country and should make it's own decision. What's wrong with "democracy"?
    We know he has had a few run-ins with Putin. And was just waiting for opportunity to get at Putin – we know how vindictive McCain is, as we wants to get back at anyone who had disagreed with him in the past – like Susan Rice. We know your game McCain.

    June 25, 2013 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  23. VEW2012

    Only a fool recommends sending tanks and scud missiles to arm the Syrian rebels, but then McPain is a fool. Please America doesn't need more wars to be involved in.

    June 25, 2013 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  24. Mark

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

    An old war horse accusing the other of being precisely that is rather amusing. Is there any war he doesn't like???

    June 25, 2013 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  25. Rob

    Yes Please RETIRE and there is noway the USA needs to say anything about RUSSIA after RUSSIA told the US about the subjects who bombed Boston. These politicians need to get the heads out of their duffel bags and quit looking in the dark.

    June 25, 2013 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
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