- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Sen. John McCain said he’s got a tough message for Russian delegates who are coming to Washington to pass along to President Vladimir Putin — and it’s not about Syria.

Rather: Tell Mr. Putin to give back New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft’s Super Bowl ring, he said, CNN reported.

“I was thinking this morning the worst thing you could do in the Old West was to steal another man’s horse. I would think in New England the worst thing you can do is steal another man’s Super Bowl ring,” he said on CNN’s “New Day” broadcast Tuesday.

The issue of the missing Super Bowl ring has haunted Mr. Kraft for years.

Mr. Kraft met with Mr. Putin in 2005 in St. Petersburg. Mr. Kraft said that Mr. Putin asked to see his ring and that when he handed it to the Russian leader, bodyguards stepped between the two. Mr. Putin then pocketed the ring and walked away, Mr. Kraft said.

Mr. Kraft also said he kept quiet about the incident because of pressure from Washington. He said he received a telephone call from the White House saying that it would be in America’s interests and help with Russian-American relations if he just claimed the ring was a gift to Mr. Putin.

Mr. Kraft kept quiet until this summer, when he revealed what he claimed was the true version of the ring incident as it played in 2005 — that Mr. Putin was little more than a Super Bowl ring thief. And that he wants it back.

Russian authorities, meanwhile, said they’re still puzzled by what they say is Mr. Kraft’s inaccurate theft accusation.

“What Mr. Kraft is saying now is weird,” said Mr. Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, in June on CNN. “I was standing 20 centimeters away from him and Mr. Putin and saw and heard how Mr. Kraft gave this ring as a gift.”

Meanwhile, Mr. McCain has jumped into the fray and said he hopes the Russians will do what’s right. The delegation is due for a “dialogue” with members of Congress about Syria, CNN reported.