John McCain fires back at Vladimir Putin for backing tyrants
Republican senator lambasts Russian leader in tit-for-tat opinion column
US senator John McCain has lambasted Russia’s president Vladimir Putin in an excoriating attack, accusing him of supporting tyrants and encouraging corruption
US senator John McCain hit back at Russia’s president Vladimir Putin in an excoriating attack, accusing him of supporting tyrants and encouraging corruption.
In response to an opinion article penned by Putin in the New York Times last week, the Republican senator said in a column published in the Russian online newspaper Pravda that Mr Putin’s support of the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad had damaged Russia’s reputation.
“He is not enhancing Russia’s global reputation. He is destroying it,” wrote the Arizona senator and 2008 Republican presidential candidate. “He has made her a friend to tyrants and an enemy to the oppressed, and untrusted by nations that seek to build a safer, more peaceful and prosperous world.”
Declaring himself to be pro-Russian – “more pro-Russian than the regime that misrules you today” – Mr McCain addressed the Russian people, saying that Putin’s government punished dissent and imprisoned opponents, rigged elections and threatened organisations that defend self-government.
“To perpetuate their power they foster rampant corruption in your courts and your economy and terrorise and even assassinate journalists who try to expose their corruption,” Mr McCain wrote in an article published yesterday under the headline: “Russians deserve better than Putin.”
Mr Putin, who yesterday refused to rule out a run at a fourth presidential term in 2018, ridiculed the US senator for choosing to publish his opinion article in an website linked to the political opposition in Russia, suggesting that it showed the American politician’s out of date knowledge of the country.
Last week the Russian leader attacked the US for threatening military force against Syria and criticised America for viewing itself as “exceptional” in world affairs. While repeating his view that Assad’s opponents carried out the chemical weapons attack that led to the US threat of military action, Mr Putin said he was “confident” though not 100 per cent sure that Syria’s chemical weapons could be destroyed under a plan agreed by the Russians and Americans.