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. eatih mee

    Poor OLD John just can't get over crashing all those planes daddy kept putting him back in, getting captured, etc... Now he wants to play armchair commando safe at home and far from any real action, which as we all know and have seen, he cannot handle. He needs a continuous war and bodies for the slaughter to make up for all of his failures and to finally make his daddy proud, just without a good airplane to crash...

    June 25, 2013 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  2. John Mann

    Why does Mccain hate America so much? He's always trying to undermine the president no matter what.

    For Mccain it's always "time to get tough with ".

    Those who must constantly act like the tough guy must be trying to make up for some weakness of his own.

    June 25, 2013 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  3. jack 3

    McCains right! Obama has shown too much weakness ansd has no respect in the world or his own country. If Obama loved this country he'd step down. It's obvious he's lost control and is totally ineffective

    June 25, 2013 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  4. nik green

    McCain is yet another traitor in the ranks of similar in DC. Why do they hate your country, and why are they siding with the Brown Shirts?

    June 25, 2013 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  5. Really???

    Obama get though with Putin? That's a joke all in itself.

    June 25, 2013 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  6. Snarky MacFee

    This colossal JERK wont be satisfied until we are in every war on the planet. He thinks all the lower classes are only there to fulfill his war ambitions. He learned NOTHING from his war experience. Old men like to send young men to die for their own glory and not for any other reason. McCain, if you want war so bad why dont YOU fight on the front lines for awhile, again. See if it jogs your memory of what carnage is and how little it suits your ego. USA should NOT take the role of world bully. We cannot be an example of peace and good governance if we are involved in multiple wars. You say you want less spending? Like Heck you do! You just want to spend it on infinite conflict! Retire Old Man!

    June 25, 2013 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  7. Anonymous

    Maybe, Mitt Romney was right, that Russia is the World's number one enemy. Are you kidding me. Obama should beat his chest, push his weight around, slam every leader in every country who isn't like "us". Wait Obama is one of us either. Is he? Oh god, I'm so confused.

    Except, on the realization that if McCain had become president America would be at war with everyone. Especially, if McCain had walked in the room and all he received was the finger.

    What is that saying; walk softly but carry a big stick; we should be known by the power of our diplomacy rather than by the power of our weapontry; grandstanding is for asses (ok I added that one), but you get the point.

    June 25, 2013 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  8. Freddo

    "He's not in Russia". No, he's in the "transit zone" for enroute passengers.

    It's called "semantic gamesmanship". McCain knows the game – he's played it himself.

    June 25, 2013 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  9. Peace

    Hello Arizona, your senator is not representing you. Please recall him before he starts World War III.

    June 25, 2013 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  10. jag2power

    RE: American independent

    Some please, please tell me why I voted for Pres Obama?

    Well, for starters he's not a hothead iching to start another war with anyone that doesn't agree with us. Walking softly while carrying a big stick (the U.S. military) has value.

    June 25, 2013 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  11. Davis

    Why are we constantly seeing all these articles about what McCain has to say? How is he any more important than any other senator? He LOST in 2008.

    June 25, 2013 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  12. Bob

    McCain doesn't live in the White House and thank God for that.

    June 25, 2013 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  13. Steve

    Mccain is a lot better man than what Obama is today, I am not sure the people in US have any trust on Obama today. Obama has lost all his trusts and creditibility in the past 5 years now, see how he is making a mockery of the administration, His buddy Eric Holder is still in his job, after lying in congress, Hilary lied and kept her job, gave Susan Rice a position after her talking point of lies on the Sunday show. Well I did not vote for Obama, people who did need to understand if they need a socialist country, well they can go to Russia, Cuba, china, there are so many comminust countries in the world today. Please keep the greatest nation on earth "as is", if you do not like it just leave.

    June 25, 2013 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  14. Youmustbekidding

    Two words: Sarah Palin. With that selection for VP, McCain sealed his fate as one of the most desperate men to every run for President. Not exactly a "country first" kinda selection there Mc. You betcha!

    McCain's "freshness date" expired long ago. Now all we have is an aging cold warrier, baffled by the world of today, but ready with a simple solution. "Ain't nuthin here a little war couldn't solve!"

    June 25, 2013 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  15. glk20c

    Shut up, McCain. Your time in the US Senate is way past expiration.

    June 25, 2013 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  16. Jimh77

    John really needs to retire and just go away. Till then John, Keep your lips closed.

    June 25, 2013 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  17. rs

    McCain is just another traitorous fool the nation will have to deal with.

    June 25, 2013 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  18. bobo

    Obama Just Bows more and more.......

    June 25, 2013 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  19. gary

    Only thing that could satisfy this war monger is world war III. This old fart needs to retire

    June 25, 2013 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  20. Steveo

    I thought Hillary pressed the "reset" button. In saying that, What are we going to do? We couldn't even get tough with North Korea!

    June 25, 2013 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  21. lacoaster

    McCain has made a living of the peoples money with his blah blah expertise. I pity people that believe anything he says. McBlah, you should be retired by now and sharing with your grand grand kids. Stop milking the imitation of a job you occupy and let a more qualified, younger person handle it.

    June 25, 2013 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  22. jim

    this is just one reason why you are not prez john. u dont run the world.

    June 25, 2013 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  23. Saez

    Who does McCain think he is. Does he really think the U.S. has the power to get tough with Russia what world does he live in. Remember the supper powers militarily of the world are Russia and the U.S.

    June 25, 2013 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  24. pat carr

    "For Mccain it's always "time to get tough with ". "

    LOL! that's true. the end word is just substituted with Syria or whatver's going on the moment

    June 25, 2013 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  25. Joe Mama

    LOL I love how you guys think McCain and Obama are working towards different goals.

    June 25, 2013 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
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