- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Although Russia’s foreign minister denied Tuesday that NSA leaker Edward Snowden had ever entered the country, Sen. John McCain said the unfolding drama is “reminiscent of the days of the Cold War.”

“You hear a Russian spokesman saying he’s not in Russia and that every shred of evidence indicates that he is,” the Arizona Republican said. “Look, we’ve got to start dealing with Vladimir Putin in a realistic fashion for what he is. He’s an old KGB Colonel Apparatchik that dreams of the days of the Russian Empire, and he continues to stick his thumb in our eye in a broad variety of ways.

“Most importantly, to me, of course, and should be to the world, is their continued support of Bashar Assad and the massacre that’s taking place in Syria, not to mention a number of other areas that Russia is basically showing us a total lack of respect,” he said.

Mr. McCain said the situation with Mr. Snowden also sends a message to the Iranians that could make make them wonder whether the U.S. is serious about statements that they cannot achieve nuclear weapon capabilities.

“When you show the world you’re leading from behind, these are the consequences of American leadership,” Mr. McCain said on CNN’s “New Day.” “You know, I spend a lot of time in the Middle East. Every one of these leaders say, ‘Where is American leadership? Where is American leadership?’ We need to show more leadership, and that does not mean confrontation, but it means steadfast adherence to the principles that many presidents, since the end of the Cold War, since before, have stood for, that the rest of the world will respect.”

Mr. McCain said the entire situation should lead to a re-evaluation of U.S. relations with Russia and China.

“[Putin] has to understand, and we have to be serious, that this will affect our relations with Russia in a broad variety of ways and that does not mean a return to the Cold War, but it means a very realistic approach to our relations with” Russia and China, he said.

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

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