Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., claims he’s “more pro-Russian” than current Russian leaders in an opinion piece in Pravda, a Russian newspaper printed Thursday, as part of a tit-for-tat editorial rebuttal to an op-ed piece by Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Sept. 11 edition of The New York Times.
Putin had argued against the idea of American exceptionalism, rankling many politicians and citizens. McCain, conversely, trashed Putin’s ever-increasing gripe over the Russian people while claiming to maintain a democracy.
Russians have a right to dignity, self-determinations, economic opportunity and governed by clear rule of law, McCain wrote.
“A Russian citizen could not publish a testament like the one I just offered,” he said. “President Putin and his associates do not believe in these values. They don't respect your dignity or accept your authority over them. They punish dissent and imprison opponents. They rig your elections. They control your media.”
McCain said rather than “restore Russia to greatness at home and among the nations of the world” Putin has instead allied Russia “with some of the world's most offensive and threatening tyrannies.”
Underlying the ego-brawl between McCain and Putin, and more broadly America and Russia, is the ongoing civil war in Syria, which has stretched two years and killed more than 100,000, including more than 1,400 in a recent chemical weapons attack. The Obama administration has sought to get U.N. Security Council resolutions condemning Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime but Russia and China have continually objected to them.
McCain said that by supporting Syria, Putin “is not enhancing Russia's global reputation. He is destroying it.”
Putin, McCain said, “rules for himself, not you.”
Rather than being anti-Russian when he critiques the current regime, McCain said, he’s being pro-Russian. “When I criticize your government, it is not because I am anti-Russian,” he said.
“It is because I believe you deserve a government that believes in you and answers to you. And, I long for the day when you have it.”