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. PK

    Every time a crisis occurs with another nation here comes McCain with his sword drawn! I've lost count of how many wars he would have gotten the US into with his comments! I am so glsd that he never became president! Mr. Tough Guy is a war monger and I'm very glad that the powers that be don't listen to him!

    June 25, 2013 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  2. Aarky

    Someone dust off an old Sky Hawk jet and put some fake bombs on it. McCain will then invade Russia to show just how tough he is.

    June 25, 2013 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  3. Truth

    I see McCain is digging a bigger grave. Maybe it's big enough to fit all of congress in now?

    June 25, 2013 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  4. LotusDevil

    Whaaa....., get tough with Putin, you mean Bush's old soulmate???................

    June 25, 2013 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  5. rtkmd

    He was a model prisoner-of-war, and...?

    June 25, 2013 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  6. jack jackson

    Why you just talk old fart ..lets see if you keep your promise

    June 25, 2013 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  7. Larry L

    A lot of younger folks didn't live through the Cold War, don't really remember the 9/11 frenzy that led to the Patriot Act, and don't understand the absolute need for operations in the classified arena – too naive. Snowden purposefully sought classified information for the purpose of giving it to our enemies. That is the act of a traitor. I don't have any use for McCain – but Snowden isn't fit to wipe his boots – or those of any of the real heroes who will die because of Snowden's treasonous acts.

    June 25, 2013 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  8. Jeff

    So glad this guy is not our president. Many of you voted for this guy... He is out of his mind.

    June 25, 2013 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  9. TonyBlair

    Behold the bloodthirsty warmonger. He wants to take us to war in Syria, bomb Iran. Just like he bombed civilians in Vietnam.

    June 25, 2013 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  10. Thaddeus Kozubal

    What happened here? The GOP decide they need another war and they assigned McCain the chairmanship of war mongering? Revoke his passport. McCain: sit down and go back to sleep.

    June 25, 2013 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  11. mefit

    McCain Just retire simple . No more wars YOU war Monger

    June 25, 2013 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  12. Paul R.

    Dude won't get tough over millions of illegal foreign invaders, but he wants to get tough with a Russian president? What is this, 1963?

    June 25, 2013 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  13. Time_run

    McCain is really getting too old we hear a lot of nonsense coming from him lately! go away!

    June 25, 2013 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  14. leewarren

    This is why McCane lost the election

    June 25, 2013 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
  15. belinda

    Why doesn't he get back to the job of governing his neglected state. Or is someone else running it for him, while he continues to perform for the GOP led circus, I mean congress. Quit wasting our time and money.

    June 25, 2013 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  16. dcb

    Unfortunately, McCain is right. Putin is playing these games with the American people, and getting away with it. I'm Canadian, and have lots of respect for the American people and government, and would probably be a Democrat if I was an American, but Snowden committed a crime, he broke the law, he 'played' with the security of the US government, and the security of the American people. He must be brought to justice before anything else is leaked, to protect the American people and lives. Even if he has a cause, even if the government may not be completely abiding by the Constitution , he must be returned as soon as possible. Russia is harboring a criminal, plain and simple. Putin is making a fool of the Amercian people, and the American government, and is making a HUGE fool of himself.

    June 25, 2013 11:47 pm at 11:47 pm |
  17. Shawn Irwin

    McCain is a dinosaur . . . . has never seen a war he did not like, and now he wants to tell Putin how to run his country.
    That is the problem with the US, it is always trying to tell other leaders how to run their countries, and spread the "freedom", but our government is just as bad . . . . who is it that is monitoring the lives of average citizens? Our constitution is about as useless as a screen door on a submarine, we may as well not even have it, we may as well just burn it.

    June 26, 2013 12:01 am at 12:01 am |
  18. Truth2012

    Take your meds and go back to sleep... no one care what you have to say...

    June 26, 2013 12:08 am at 12:08 am |
  19. Jason

    The next press release we see about McCain may read something like this:
    "After a brief psychological evaluation John McCain was released into the custody of his family
    – with the admonition to keep an eye on him so he doesn't become a threat to himself – or others."

    June 26, 2013 12:08 am at 12:08 am |
  20. Total2199

    This old fart is still around?

    June 26, 2013 12:11 am at 12:11 am |
  21. go home old man

    you are causing more problems then solving them...stop being a wrench in the gears...we can always talk about that problem you have in ALASKA that Putin is well aware of...may be Putin should get tough with you about adoptions...
    you know the one that Palins fleeced and the Birthright owner is WHOSE sister? Have fun with all that old man...

    June 26, 2013 12:19 am at 12:19 am |
  22. John Smith

    America is the root of all terror. America has invaded sixty countries since world war 2.
    In 1953 America overthrow Iran's democratic government Mohammad Mosaddegh and installed a brutal dictator Shah. America helped Shah of Iran to establish secret police and killed thousands of Iranian people.
    During Iran-Iraq war evil America supported Suddam Hossain and killed millions of Iranian people. In 1989, America, is the only country ever, shot down Iran's civilian air plane, killing 290 people.
    In 2003,America invaded Iraq and killed 1,000,000+ innocent Iraqi people and 4,000,000+ Iraqi people were displaced.
    Now America is a failed state with huge debt. Its debt will be 22 trillion by 2015.

    June 26, 2013 12:19 am at 12:19 am |
  23. Sick of Congress

    McCain is a dinosaur who wants to start fights and go to war. Has he not learned anything? I think he is senile now. Retire and go away.

    June 26, 2013 01:01 am at 1:01 am |
  24. Lizard Lance

    John McCain is long beyond being useful in the US Senate. His constant barking has grown tiresome to everyone around the world. Yawn.

    June 26, 2013 01:16 am at 1:16 am |
  25. eugene

    John, after you gave this interview, have you had your moment of political/mental orgasm?

    June 26, 2013 01:32 am at 1:32 am |
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