Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain pushed for harder sanctions against Russia due to their impending annexation of the Crimean region of southern Ukraine, calling Russia “a gas station masquerading as a country.”
The senator spoke with CNN’s Candy Crowley about the vote now taking place in the occupied region, largely seen as a rubber stamp for Russia’s absorption of the territory.
McCain claimed that America must reevaluate its relations with Russia in the face of such blatant aggression. “The United States of America, first of all, has to have a fundamental reassessment of our relationship with Vladimir Putin,” he asserted. “No more reset buttons, no more, ‘Tell Vladimir I’ll be more flexible.’ Treat him for what he is.”
Crowley asked what America must do to make sure Russia’s land grab comes with a cost. “I think economic sanctions are a very important step,” he said. “Russia is a gas station masquerading as a country. It’s kleptocracy, it’s corruption. It’s a nation that is really only dependent on oil and gas for their economy.”
The senator also argued for limited military assistance to the Ukrainian government, the restart of America’s missile defense system in Europe and the invitation of some of Russia’s eastern European neighbors to join NATO.
“There’s a myriad of steps that we can take,” he noted, “and it’ll be very interesting to see to what degree our European friends will join us.”
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