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. Logan

    I use to support McCain; now I just want him to go away.

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

    Yeah! Let's arm rebels against a Russia-controlled regime!! We've never made that mistake!!

    June 25, 2013 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  3. Howard

    Isn't this time for this old and obnoxious fart to shut up? What democracy is he talking about? We've become a second Saudi Arabia..

    June 25, 2013 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  4. Florida Joe

    All I can say is America was saved from this war monger being President...thank goodness
    All this trigger happy clown wants to do is start wars.......Retire, Go Away, ByeBye

    June 25, 2013 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  5. marty

    Big John, Big John......Big bad John

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

    "Anybody that takes somebody's Super Bowl ring has got to be not exactly like us" Do we really need any more Americans

    June 25, 2013 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  7. parvo00

    McCain demonstrating precisely why he is not President.

    June 25, 2013 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  8. SeeThruIt2

    Putin is looking out for Russia's best interests.

    Snowden didn't commit any crime against the Russians, and we have no extradition treaty with them.

    Russia has a treaty with the Syrian government for their naval base and for selling them anti-aircraft missiles. (Similar to the U.S. treaty with Poland to sell them a ballistic missile defense system.)

    The U.S. support for the Syrian rebels is poking the Russians in their eye. So, what should we expect from Putin?

    June 25, 2013 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  9. putin laughs at you liberal wimps

    Too funny.

    Putin would level McCain or whiny Schumer with one hand tied behind his back.

    June 25, 2013 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  10. desilva

    maccain says tough.
    he should lay down what he means by tough.
    unfortunately there are no solutions to Russian or Chinese problem.
    They always take the other side of America in any situation.
    So what the hell you are going to do about it. fight with them or bomb them.
    Unfortunaletly you can do nothing .
    Reason- we do the same , it is a reality .
    sorry state of affairs.
    we are pretty much screwd baby.
    Anybody has any ideas. Or god not from Maccain or our president . They have no unswers.

    June 25, 2013 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  11. Stuffit

    There is certainly no respect or cooperation left anywhere in the world for this country. Obama lost it all. Besides being incompetent, inept and corrupt, he is weak and ineffectual. He can only bully his own people, which he is very good at.

    June 25, 2013 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  12. John Adams

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

    That statement no doubt will get the Russians to be more cooperative...

    June 25, 2013 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  13. allens

    how is this for scary, had he not picked palin, there was a chance he could have won. small, but a chance

    June 25, 2013 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  14. K M

    Just want to make sure I've got it right.. it's SENATOR McCain, not President. Right?

    June 25, 2013 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  15. patrick

    When McCain says Putin is not like us, does that mean he should be? If he's not like us we should get tough with him. This man is a throwback to a time when the might of the US was respected. He's so out of touch with the times and with the sentiment of the US people. Go home John.

    June 25, 2013 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  16. Schlomo Rabinowitz

    John "Pop-gun" McCain is shooting off his Keating 5 store bought mouth again. How did this idiot ever get elected in the first place? Pray tell, how are we going to get tough with Putin? Sic the IRS on them? Threaten an IRS audit? Spy on them? Request return of the personally autographed Obama books? Remove the fake Staples restart button? Let's face it, because of dolts like Pop-gun McCain and Barack Obama, the United States has become the international laughing stock

    June 25, 2013 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  17. Danny Hutchens

    Get tough with Putin but advocate immigration and porous borders.......yeah, that makes sense!!!

    June 25, 2013 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  18. Julie

    Uh ooh, someone woke up grandpa again and he's not in a good mood. Has he forgotten that the U.S has given asylum to many defectors and spies from Russia and China in recent history. Oh I see, the old adage "its a two way street" doesn't apply in his mind

    June 25, 2013 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  19. Brian

    McCain is a dumb politician...plain and simple...so glad that we didn't elect this garbage to the White House.

    June 25, 2013 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  20. chris

    McCain is right. This facade of the imaginary peter pan world liberals think we live in can only last as long as people keep buying it. At some point human nature trumps. Hope and change has become could have been worse.

    June 25, 2013 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  21. chris

    Obama is like that scared kid in the principals office who tries to make jokes with bullies who are in trouble.

    June 25, 2013 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  22. Lew

    I am a conservative and the likes of John McCain sickens me. We need to get old nut jobs like McCain out of our party. Its funny how all this get tough with Putin talk comes about because some 28 year IT Nerd embarrases the Obama administration with leaks. The real issue should not be deflected on Snowden, he is gone for now and the real story is still here in the US. The administration and this run away governement is stealing our rights from us and the media and administration want to deflect all that onto Snowden. His time may or may not come, but we need to put more energy into gettting rid of this enormous oversized government which is not doing anything to help our country. These simple minded beaurocrats think that we work for them, NOT TRUE! They work for us. Power to the people! We are ultimately in charge just as our founding fathers wanted it to be. Lets clean house on anyone who doesnt uphold the contitution or bill of rights. Period! Nothing else to talk about.

    June 25, 2013 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  23. Maypo

    The Russians know that The Emperor Rufus is nothing more than an incompetent and pitiful clown. They are having lots of fun (at our expense) with this Snowden game. Perhaps Rufus can offer Vlad some free courtside NBA tickets, some time with Beyonce, or maybe some fine blow. Thats all he is good for....

    June 25, 2013 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  24. zutux

    A clown does what a clown does...

    Nuff said

    June 25, 2013 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  25. cwiz

    As much as I personally feel that Snowden is a traitor and needs to be captured, I don't support violating the sovereignty of another nation. Russia, however, would be fools to harbor him. It would be a diplomatic nightmare for them. I hope Snowden slips up and we can nab him without disturbing any relationships with other nations.

    June 25, 2013 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
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