• McCain On Putin: ‘He Wants To Restore The Russian Empire’

    Republican Sen. John McCain said Wednesday during his trip to Sweden that Russian President Vladimir Putin is trying to “restore the Russian Empire.”

    The purpose of the trip, made along with Sens. John Barrasso and Sheldon Whitehouse, is to reiterate concerns regarding Russia’s aggressive military build-up and other threatening activities, The Local reports.

    McCain favors a much more active response to Russia, which has included supplying arms to Ukraine, a point McCain has hammered home at the various Senate Armed Service Committee nomination hearings over the past couple of months. For McCain, even sending millions in non-lethal aid isn’t enough to force the Russian side to shift tactics.

    “I think what Putin does now is that he sorts of calibrates about how far he can go without triggering some kind of real opposition,” McCain said at the Hudson Institute in July. “We are arguing now over when and how to raise the sanctions. Nobody talks about Crimea, nobody talks about the Malaysia Airliner that we know was shot down with Russian equipment and probably with Russian(s) manning it. There’s no discussion of it.”

    In June, the Center for European Policy Analysis stated the Russian military held an exercise simulating a takeover of Norway, Finland, Sweden and Denmark, using 33,000 troops. The scenario posited that Western powers were supporting an uprising in Moscow to unseat Putin, and in response, Russia launched an assault against the four bordering countries.

    “If carried out successfully, control of those territories would make it all but impossible for Nato allies to reinforce the Baltic states,” Edward Lucas, the senior vice-president of the Centre for European Policy Analysis, wrote in the report.

    Sweden seems to agree that Russia presents a major threat.

    The country’s security service noted that the biggest intelligence threat in 2014 came from Russia, where agents have been illegally gaining access to information about Sweden’s defense capabilities, as well as aggressively recruiting new spies in Sweden from the Russian expatriate community.

    Last September, two SU-24 bombers reportedly entered Swedish airspace for about 30 seconds, prompting Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt to harshly criticize the Russian ambassador.

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