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. brunoaltimino

    Disagree w McCain. We don't need to piss off Putin over this insignificant event. So they know the government ease drops on its citizens. So what?

    June 25, 2013 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  2. WinnipegMedicalMarijuana@gmail.com

    You (The United States) do not own the world. And it is becoming increasingly obvious that you never will. Your republic is committing suicide by ineffective government. You intervene in the Balkans and the Islamists defecate on you. You attack Libya and arms proliferate. You invade Iraq and Afghanistan and people hate you. You are my neighbors and I do not welcome you in my country. I am ashamed to have your country as my neighbor and am embarrassed that my Prime Minister falls in lockstep with your loathsome, disgusting foreign policies. Guantanomo Bay is still open, you don't have a rational health care policy, no sustainable energy policy and you still seem to enjoy invading other countries.

    June 25, 2013 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  3. Ryan

    I think McCain is blowing this way out of proportion, we never send back russian's who ended up defecting on Russia, why on earth do we think they should?

    June 25, 2013 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  4. timpala

    Come on, you know John can't operate the remote control on his TV. Why do we even interview him anymore?

    June 25, 2013 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  5. ALAN

    Mc Caine... who's kidding who.? TRAITOR? The word coming from your mouth.? Traitor, to who ,the US Govt. or the American people who own it..? fess up kiddo... your a mooch. 1

    June 25, 2013 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  6. ALAN

    .. see's a distinct difference of opinion from the people who 'govern' the US taxpayers... and the citizens that 'rent' them to do a job . BY THE PEOPLE and FOR THE PEOPLE... ya bloody think..? you had better.

    June 25, 2013 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  7. Bigler Chap

    This is outrageous. Privately, Obama tells Putin that if Snowden is not in US hands in 24 hours, USA will NOT participate in Russia's upcoming winter Olympics. Huge loss of $$ for Russia. Hit him where it hurts.

    June 25, 2013 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  8. BO

    McCain has gone off his rocker. Come on Arizona you can do better than that.

    June 25, 2013 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  9. ALAN

    Was it Jefferson who said "the govt. should fear the people"... NOT the other way around... would anybody disagree with that... Please step forth ..Mc Caine..,. what do you think.? I fear you and your self righteousness , knows best, ways .. than I do most others.. Who is the traitor..? Your using the word very loosely... as is obama.. your getting to the same level as Cheney. It really IS time to reflect the opinions of the people who are paying your way through life.. U offended...? Me too.. ! When a govt. cannot be honest... with the people who are hiring them... afraid of the truth... thats frightening.

    June 25, 2013 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  10. tokalosh0

    McCain is a crachety old fart who belongs on a golf course in AZ, not on Felony Hill, er I mean Capitol Hill. He ceased to be relevant many years ago. Did this country not understand that in his 2008 run for president? He cannot completely ignore the rule of law himself and then claim that Russia is doing the same. Nothing works that way.

    June 25, 2013 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  11. Karl Emmerich

    Sure, McCain .. get tough with China and USSR - let's start World War Z.

    June 25, 2013 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  12. Sun East

    What is this? POW flashback revenge?
    Well McCain must sound off every-now-and-then so the public knows he's still sitting up.
    But totally irreverent senator...

    June 25, 2013 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  13. Dave

    Sounds like its time to start preparing his room at the old folks home, Alzheimer's ward.
    Just sayin'.

    June 25, 2013 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  14. Charles de Gaulle

    McCain? I thought he passed away in 1895.

    June 25, 2013 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  15. American Patriot

    For a guy who DID NOT remember HOW MANY HOUSES he had (7) - BUT yet, wants the American people to take his Judgement against a sovereign nation's (Russia) decision to let a patriot stay in their country?

    For a guy who was a former POW, you sure are a chicken-hawk McCain.

    When it comes to wanting more and more wars, like you constantly spurt, how about you send your children to war John ??

    - When your children fight on the front lines, I'll send mine ok ??...other than , shut your pie hole, and take care of America first , not your buddies in Tel Aviv

    June 25, 2013 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  16. Booby

    Mc Cain, another one who says get tough.

    June 25, 2013 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  17. Donald

    What a sad old sack!

    June 25, 2013 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  18. fsnake

    It's time to rebuild it all from the ground up. Its so out of control on every front that it will never be put back together. I wish I could get on a ship and find a new world to start over in. I'm so sorry for what my children will have to endure as it all really hits the fan.

    June 25, 2013 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  19. amazed2

    Is this the same guy who selected Sarah Palin as his Vice Presidential candidate? I say with buffoonish judgment like that you're better off just keeping you mouth shut.

    June 25, 2013 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  20. w l jones

    Some people to old to remember wwll if it were not for the Russian what language we all would be speaking. Said enough.

    June 25, 2013 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  21. ALLuh

    I'd rather have a beer with Putin than McCain, Obama, Cantor, Boehner or any of our scary retarded old guard, Putin scares me way less too.

    June 25, 2013 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  22. nytw

    Why does everything this traitor say get in the national press?

    June 25, 2013 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  23. joe biglow

    Rino McCain is irrelevant..................3 1/2 years left of King Putt and his relentlessness drive to destroy America and its Constitution is what is relevant. God Help Us.

    June 25, 2013 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  24. Olaf Big

    This whole story is a big embarassment for the U.S. Snowden did his share to embarass the U.S. government, but the government's response was an even bigger embarassment. And "get tough with Putin".... How? There is very little Russia wants or needs from the U.S. They are quite good at dealing with their security problems themselves, and trade with the U.S. never mattered a lot, and matters even less now with the expanding Asian markets and European dependence on Russian natural gas.

    June 25, 2013 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  25. Nodack

    McCain keeps calling put Obama for being weak, but then again Obama seems to be the only only one listening to him. McCain called Obama weak for not setting up a no fly zone in Libya. Then Obama did and Republicans bashed Obama for starting and unlawful war. McCain was bashing Obama again for being weak and not helping the rebels in Syria. Then Obama does and Republicans bash Obama for helping the rebels.

    June 25, 2013 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
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