WASHINGTON — Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) underscored that a great America needs to remember to always stand against tyranny, even when wanting to try another reset with Russia.
The Kremlin said Monday that Russian President Vladimir Putin and President-elect Donald Trump spoke on the phone about bringing their two countries closer together in a relationship of “non-interference.”
In a readout of the call, the Russian government said Putin, who marked Trump’s victory in a statement last week, “once again congratulated” Trump, “wished him success in implementing his election program and said he was ready to develop a dialogue of partnership with the new administration on the principles of equality, mutual respect and non-interference in each other’s domestic affairs.”
“During the conversation Mr. Putin and Mr. Trump not only agreed on the absolutely unsatisfactory state of bilateral relations but also expressed support for active joint efforts to normalize relations and pursue constructive cooperation on the broadest possible range of issues,” the Kremlin statement continued. “They emphasized the importance of establishing a reliable foundation for bilateral ties by developing the trade and economic component… they discussed issues related to solving the crisis in Syria.”
Trump’s office said he “noted to President Putin that he is very much looking forward to having a strong and enduring relationship with Russia and the people of Russia.”
McCain fired off a statement today stressing that Putin “has rejoined Bashar Assad in his barbaric war against the Syrian people with the resumption of large-scale Russian air and missile strikes in Idlib and Homs. Another brutal assault on the city of Aleppo could soon follow.”
“With the U.S. presidential transition underway, Vladimir Putin has said in recent days that he wants to improve relations with the United States,” McCain said. “We should place as much faith in such statements as any other made by a former KGB agent who has plunged his country into tyranny, murdered his political opponents, invaded his neighbors, threatened America’s allies, and attempted to undermine America’s elections.”
“The Obama Administration’s last attempt at resetting relations with Russia culminated in Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and military intervention in the Middle East. At the very least, the price of another ‘reset’ would be complicity in Putin and Assad’s butchery of the Syrian people. That is an unacceptable price for a great nation.”
The chairman added: “When America has been at its greatest, it is when we have stood on the side of those fighting tyranny. That is where we must stand again.”
In a media availability on the Hill today, McCain ally Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) vowed that the Senate “will not give up on Crimea” and fighting Russian aggression.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) cautioned after news of the Putin-Trump call broke that “it’s one thing to have a new relationship, but it’s another thing to say we are going to push back, though, against your encroachments in Europe and what you’re doing in Syria.”
“Every new administration has always tried to create a new relationship with Russia,” Kinzinger told CNN on Monday. “You think about George W. Bush. You think about the Russian reset under Barack Obama. So it’s natural for every new president to say, you know, I think I can do this different and have a great relationship.”
“And then, over time, reality smacks you in the face, which is the fact that Vladimir Putin is actually interested in rebuilding the old Russian empire,” the congressman added. “He occupies illegally part of Georgia, Ukraine, and he’s killing a lot of innocents in Syria.”