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. bgg1175

    McCain is an old stupid man who looks for every opportunity to sound tough.
    Like we should listen to the idiot who picked Palin in 08??

    June 25, 2013 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  2. budshot

    Rule of thumb: listen to whatever advice John McCain gives, then do the opposite. You will never go wrong.

    June 25, 2013 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  3. bezboz

    It's scary that I voted for this guy, before. A very smart American once called him: The guy who never found a war he didn't like.

    June 25, 2013 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  4. AZR

    You really want to give the worst president in the history of this great nation credit for the deaths of UBL, Kaddafi and those ignorant idiots hijackers? What a bigger fool you are than the President! This country is just one step away from becoming the laughing stock of the world as we were once upon time under Carter.

    For the record, last I heard the seals killed UBL and those fools on a boat. The Lybians killed Kaddafi and then turned around killed Americans while Obama and Clinton stood by and did nothing!

    June 25, 2013 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  5. derek wszelaki

    McCain is like an old Alzheimer's patient that sees grandiose US dictates world what to do-in reality US is third world
    power that lives in the past.

    June 25, 2013 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  6. Rapcon

    If we are so certain that Snowden is in Russia, let's just get him and end the discussion (any means). A defecting citizen walking around in Russia with a briefcase full of American secrets....sound like a good movie.

    June 25, 2013 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  7. Ellen

    Of course. Because if McCain had his way, we'd be at war with Iran, Syria, Russia, China...EVERYONE.

    June 25, 2013 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  8. JomoDaMusicMan

    With all the tech that the U.S. has why don't they invent the Time Machine so we can send McCain back to the glory days of Rome. Then it could be televised World Wide as he fights in the ROMAN Coliseum as a GLADIATOR. That way no one would be NUKED except him getting his body being ripped apart by his opponent in the ring. Now, if McCain is victorious in Rome, Our time Machine can then send him to help Napoleon at Waterloo where an inferior General (Duke of Wellington) defeated him because of poor communications (McCain has always been a great Communicator) therefore Napoleon would pay a handsome sum for him. This money would help on paying, some of our National Debt

    June 25, 2013 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  9. Ryan Hoffland

    The only reason that I opene this article was I thiught the title read: McCain: Time to get tough with Palin. That would have been a better read! She did cost him the election and the Republic party is becoming much more divided since her.

    June 25, 2013 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  10. Randy

    McCain is a pro-genocidal idiot. He should be tried for war crimes for his support of the genocide in Syria. I would support Putin over this criminal from Arizona any day. God Bless Russia.

    June 25, 2013 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  11. BB

    Putin is a dictator and despises democracy. I know a man that is Russian whose family lives under his rule. Not pleasant.

    June 25, 2013 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  12. O'Dumbama

    McCain and President Obama has made America an irrelevat on World Stage.

    June 25, 2013 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  13. sniff

    McCain is a washed up old man who throws fits periodically. Get over it John, the people DIDN'T

    June 25, 2013 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  14. Hmmmm

    Johnny boy, have you got any real ideas or is this just another sound bite intended for media consumption?

    June 25, 2013 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  15. sniff

    McCain is a washed up old man who throws fits periodically. Get over it John, the people DIDN'T choose you. Maybe it's time to retire and leave gracefully. People have already lost respect for you after all the garbage you've pulled the last couple years. That entire run for presidency was nothing but a joke.

    June 25, 2013 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  16. goprodious

    McCain is living in the past That respect was lost early in the 21st Century.

    He might have distain for democracy, but I'm sure he admires secret abductions, torture, non-judicial killings, and government surveillance of everything about everyone.

    June 25, 2013 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  17. James Klimaski

    I vote that McCain challenge Putin to an arm wrestling contest. Winner get Snowden.

    June 25, 2013 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  18. Birchwood

    This has nothing to do with politics or nations, etc. – Is Mr. Putin more of a man than Mr. McCain could ever hope to be...... In Mr. McCain's history where was he very successful, even a quickie divorce to marry his wife's "beer" checkbook! Sad for Mr McCain to make such a statement, or is it envy?

    June 25, 2013 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  19. LaCrosseMom

    Let's Appoint Palin to a special investigation committee to find Snowden. Hell, this moron made her uber famous. Let's give her another job. She keeps saying she is a problem solver. Let us have Palin track him down.

    June 25, 2013 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  20. Taggot

    If McCain really wants to play tough with Putin he could do the one military tactic he is known for. He could crash a tax payer funded combat plane into the Kremlin. Who cares. Both these guys are idiots.

    June 25, 2013 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  21. Denise

    Even more telling about John is the fact that he vetted Mitt for VP when he ran in 2008. They took a look at his past tax (or lack thereof) records and passed for Palin. lol

    June 25, 2013 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  22. Andrey

    As delirious as ever! How would you get tougher on Putin? There is no trade between US and Russia, there are no cultural links worth mentioning, there are no relations which could go any worse. The only thing left is to use "tougher rhetoric: good luck with that old fool!

    June 25, 2013 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  23. Mike

    John and the whole republican establishment would love to create an enviroment where we go to war with another country. Obama was right to not get involved in Syria. Do you honestly think Israel is in love with the idea of arming a bunch of rebels right next door? The Republican like to tote about their love for Israel on one side of their mounth then advocate arming a bunch of rebels out of their other side. Thats not to say the rebels are not fighting for a good cause but what we do there can have devastating consequences to Israel and Jordan if we guess wrong! Not every war has the outcome we would like!

    June 25, 2013 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  24. Bob

    Grumpy McGramps is at it again.

    June 25, 2013 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  25. Bill

    Hey McCain,

    You lost the election. Based on your talk, it's a good thing you did, too, or we'd be engaged in WWIII by now. Please go away.


    June 25, 2013 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
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