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. Leah

    McCain doesn't even know where he's at. Doesn't even remember that Spain is our ally. Yet he loves the pretend control over Putin and war toys. It's just old. McCain is old, on many levels. The whole world knows he's old and used up. Time to move on.

    June 25, 2013 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  2. whatever

    Just go away you war monger McCain! Iv heard enough of you BS

    June 25, 2013 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  3. works4me

    McCain at dinner: Ummm, I'll have a new war, the large portion, with a side of death, despair and trillion$. Thank you!

    June 25, 2013 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  4. Angela

    McCain has discovered that Putin is not like us?? WOW! Next he will discover that the economy was not solid in September 2008. Dealing with a bright bulb here.

    June 25, 2013 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  5. Chinookman

    I wish Palin and Putin would hook-up. I hear Putin is getting divorced.

    June 25, 2013 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  6. moxjox

    McCain says Putin is living in the past?
    Pot calling the kettle black is more like it.
    John McC never met a war or "police action" he didn't like..

    June 25, 2013 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  7. LtButRt

    Sen. McCain and I finally agree on something. Ever since his KGB days Putin has been a self-serving, yellow bellied coward.

    June 25, 2013 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  8. wolf776

    One thing mcCain knows, if Obama does it, its the wrong thing. The Republican double think is the scariest thing in the world today.

    June 25, 2013 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  9. Elliott Carlin

    The answer McShame always gives: TIME TO GET TOUGH.
    One would think he'd look for every avenue to avoid escalation to war-but not this schlub--in the back pocket of the defense and intelligence industry.

    He's selling us down the river, with those on both sides of the aisle.

    June 25, 2013 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  10. Ward Cleaver

    Is McCain going to rant like Grandpa w/ a dirty diaper or will he recommend action? He's a pol. He'll get his FoxNews comrades to scream but add nothing to the conversation. His heroics: get shot down. He's a phony.

    June 25, 2013 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  11. manomundo

    McCain wants former states of the Soviet Union to join NATO. That way, if there's any little skirmish involving them, halfway around the world, he can start a U.S.-Russia war. He's always prepared to start a war that others will suffer for, and which can't possibly benefit the U.S.

    June 25, 2013 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  12. allenwoll

    McCain get lost ! ! !

    June 25, 2013 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  13. sammy750

    Obama needs to send McCain over to Russia today. He can be the ambassador at large for Obama. He can be used in Iran, syria, N. Korea and China. resolving all the issues.

    June 25, 2013 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  14. Oleg

    Why would Mr. Putin steal this ring? First of all he is considered to be one of the richest men in the world. Secondly, for any Russian a Superbowl doesn't mean anything. NFL Football is only popular in North America, but in Russia the popular game is soccer.

    Also why Russia or China should agree with US? Mr. Putin has been elected in free and fair elections and the Russians want him to be their President. Why should US dictate to other countries what are they supposed to do?

    June 25, 2013 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  15. Wes

    Let's start WW3 because he allegedly took some rich dirtbag's ring?

    June 25, 2013 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  16. Tuckersdad

    McCain is one of the worst political hacks out there. I wish he and Palin and several others would just not get reported. It's just noise polution and stinks up the place. Meh.

    June 25, 2013 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  17. NOPhah Kingweigh

    John? Wake up dear, your diaper is full, and it's time for your meds...

    June 25, 2013 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  18. Jon

    Putin is a better leader than McCain or Mr. President. I will vehemently oppose any hostility towards Russia or China. SNOWDEN TOLD THE AMERICAN PEOPLE WE ARE BEING SPIED ON, THE ONLY WAY THIS IS TREASON IS IF THE US GOVERNMENT IS AT WAR WITH THE CITIZENS OF THE UNITED STATES.

    June 25, 2013 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  19. AL

    Yes,good old McCain has the answer.Let's get tough with Putin and invade Russia.

    June 25, 2013 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  20. Jerry

    Another Senator looking to restart the cold war.

    June 25, 2013 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  21. JW

    Where is his buddy, Sarah Palin, on this? Isn't she his chosen Russia expert? She can just get in a canoe and boat over to Putin's house with Seal Team 6 and get Snowden, right? With failed choices like Palin under his belt, who can take this old man seriously? Good thing he never got to be president. He'd have America warring on at least four fronts by now.

    June 25, 2013 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  22. Julie

    Uh ohh, someone woke up grandpa and he's not very happy about that.

    June 25, 2013 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  23. 678

    McCain is right, we need to have a harder approach with Russia (and China). Both countries are just being hard to deal with cause they want to stick it to the USA...lets stick it to them back. China is basically a third world country still and Russia is a has-been.

    June 25, 2013 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  24. Tim

    love McCain he isn't afraid to speak his mind

    June 25, 2013 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  25. Dave

    Ronald Reagan: "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"
    John McCain: "Mr. Putin; Get off my lawn!"

    June 25, 2013 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
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