McCain: Putin is ignorant of American public opinion

Lawmaker reacts to sanctions placed on him by Putin


This is a rush transcript from "Your World," March 21, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Vladimir Putin is banning nine U.S. lawmakers and White House advisers from even entering Russia.

Guess who is on that list? Senator John McCain, who tweeted as soon as he heard the news that: "I guess this mean my spring break in Siberia is off."

The good senator joins me now in this exclusive chat.

What did you make of that, Senator?

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, R-ARIZ.: You know, honestly, I was amused, but also it shows how really -- how much Vladimir Putin is ignorant of American public opinion.

Let's be honest, Neil. It helps me.


MCCAIN: It helps me to be censored by Vladimir Putin. So, by putting my name on that list, it's a -- politically, frankly, it's a -- it's a bonus for me.

And so this guy really does not understand the nature of the United States, our political system. And, frankly, he is, in my view, an old colonel KGB apparatchik that is bent on restoration of the Russian empire.

By the way, he said on several occasions the worst thing that happened in the 20th century was the breakup of the Soviet Union.

CAVUTO: Absolutely. He said it several times.

MCCAIN: I have known him for what he is.



And I predicted that he would invade Crimea because he couldn't give up Sevastopol, the naval base, which gives him access to the Mediterranean.

CAVUTO: But do you think he is done with...

MCCAIN: Now the question...

CAVUTO: Do you think it's just...


CAVUTO: It's -- it's done at Crimea, or no?

MCCAIN: I don't know.

But I do know -- what I do know, his forces are still massed on the eastern border, the -- on the border of Eastern Ukraine and Southern Ukraine. I know that he is making noises about Transnistria, which is occupied by 1,400 Russian troops as part of Moldova.

I do know that there's talk about protection of the Russian-speaking citizens of the Baltic countries. So I think he is gauging our reaction to what he has done, invaded a country, and going to take steps as he calibrates what the penalty is. And so far, the -- it's been so weak that it's been, frankly, embarrassing to me.

CAVUTO: You know, National Geographic this week redrew the map of that region. That lower Crimea is already now part of Russia.

And I'm wondering if they're waiting to see what Rand McNally does. I'm being quite serious about this. But it was based on that vote, that -- on that referendum. It that the means by which you can quickly change borders and maps, that alone is pretty scary.

MCCAIN: The foreign minister of Poland, Radek Sikorski, called it another Anschluss. That's what Hitler called it when they went into the Sudetenland and into Austria to protect the German-speaking people.

By the way, there was a poll some months ago of Crimea, where 53 percent of the people in Crimea wanted to be part of Ukraine and Europe. And -- but most alarming is that, at the breakup of the Soviet Union, Ukraine was the third largest nuclear power.

They gave up all of that in return for a guarantee of the territorial integrity of Ukraine and Crimea. What message does this send to other countries that may have number nuclear weapons that we're trying to have them unload?

I mean, there are so many ramifications of our failure to act in face of what is naked aggression, is really deplorable. And, finally, I agree with Charlie. What are the Europeans going to do? Are they going to stand with us? And it argues persuasively for a long-term policy where we get energy to the European countries, so that they can...


CAVUTO: Which is precisely why they're not. Which is precisely why they're not.

But back to this enemies list, if you don't mind, Senator, would you have been offended if you didn't make it?


MCCAIN: Actually, I would have been disappointed, to tell you...


MCCAIN: ... to be honest. I always have to be straight with you. I would have been disappointed, because, as you know, I...

CAVUTO: Well, how did you -- do you know how Mary Landrieu made the list and Bob Menendez in New Jersey made the list and then Harry Reid made the list? I mean, it -- it seems eclectic to me.

MCCAIN: I think leadership roles that Harry Reid and Bob Menendez have. I'm not sure about the others.

I know that Dan Coats has been very strong on Russia. But for me to understand what the Russians' thinking is, is very difficult. But, again, I know that he is bent on restoration of the Russian empire. And Ukraine is the crown jewel of that. That's why I'm still worried about what actions he might take, because he certainly hasn't...

CAVUTO: Well, if you were president, Senator, if you were president -- because many -- and you have argued this in the past...

MCCAIN: Yes, sure.

CAVUTO: ... that we have provided the atmosphere and our conduct has provided the means by which Putin takes advantage of situations like this.

If you were president and you're at this stage, and let's say he's doing the same thing to you, how do you respond? At this point, he is saying, I don't think these sanctions will get much worse and I certainly don't think they're going to send troops here. What does John McCain do?

MCCAIN: John McCain says, we have to understand Vladimir Putin for what he is.

And then I send defensive weapons to Ukraine, so that they can defend themselves in case of further incursion. And then I talk about long-term energy requirements. And I also talk about restoring missile defenses in Czech Republic and Poland, which Obama canceled in attempts to appease Vladimir Putin.

There is a long list of things and these sanctions like Charlie talked about that really hurt. Sanctions against Iran, which were enacted over Obama's objection, have really had an effect in bringing them to the table. It's those kinds of sanctions that need to be enacted on Vladimir Putin.

And I think then the stock market in Moscow will go down.

CAVUTO: All right, but oligarchs, or all these guys with the billions, have had plenty of time to move that money, haven't they?

MCCAIN: Yes, but they love it in London, and they like to send their kids to school there.

CAVUTO: Yes. Yes.

MCCAIN: And that -- we can really harm their lifestyles. Would you want to have to live all the time in Russia...


MCCAIN: ... if your were a billionaire? I don't think so.


CAVUTO: Well, there is that.


CAVUTO: Senator, very good having you on again.

What a list to be on. Congratulations, John McCain, on the list that is getting all the buzz here.

MCCAIN: Thank you, Neil.

CAVUTO: It's a very limited list, as we were showing you there.

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