National Security

McCain: Russia is a ‘Gas Station Masquerading as a Country’

Ariz. Sen. argues for a 'fundamental reassessment' of relationship with Putin

Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.) argued the United States needs to fundamentally reassess its relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin Sunday on CNN.

While McCain acknowledged that should not mean a resumption of the Cold War, he argued there are practical steps the United States can take to confront the energy dependent Russian state.

"I think economic sanctions are a very important step. Identify these cleptocrats. Russia is a gas station masquerading as a country. It's a cleptocracy, it is a nation that's really only dependent upon oil and gas for their economy."

The Arizona senator added other steps to counter Putin could include reestablishing the Polish missile defense system, providing more military aid to Ukraine, and considering the Russian occupied countries of Moldova and Georgia for NATO membership.

Full exchange:

JOHN MCCAIN: […] But the United States of America, first of all, has to have a fundamental reassessment of our relationship with Vladimir Putin. No more reset buttons, no more tell Vladimir I'll be more flexible. Treat him for what he is. That does not mean re-ignition of the Cold War, but it does mean treating him in the way that we understand an individual who believes in restoring the old Russian empire.

CANDY CROWLEY: Practically speaking what does that matter, how do you treat him?

MCCAIN: Well, I think economic sanctions are a very important step. Identify these cleptocrats. Russia is a gas station masquerading as a country. It's a cleptocracy, it's corruption, it is a nation that's really only dependent upon oil and gas for their economy. And so economic sanctions are important. Get some military assistance to Ukrainians, at least so he they can defend themselves. Resume the missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic. Look at Moldova and Georgia, both of whom are occupied by Russian troops as we speak. with a path toward membership in NATO. There's a myriad of steps that we can take and it will be interesting to see to what degree our European friends will join us who are dependent on Russian energy supplies.

 Full interview: