John McCain to Vladimir Putin: Don't meddle in Ukraine

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., has a message for Russian President Vladimir Putin: let Ukrainians choose their own future.

McCain appeared on CBS’ “Face the Nation” in the wake of a tumultuous few days in Ukraine during which President Viktor Yanukovych fled to a more Russian-aligned city in the east and protestors assumed control of the capital and the Parliament.

 

The country is deeply divided between regions that are aligned with Russia, and western parts of the country that rebelled against Yanukovych after he rejected a trade deal that would have brought Ukraine closer to the European Union. With the 2014 Sochi Olympics in Russia drawing to a close, Putin is expected to devote more attention to the crisis.

McCain, who traveled to the country last year to support the protestors, said that the message to Putin should be that a partition of the country “would not be acceptable.”

“The Ukrainian people will determine their own future. They want to be Western…they do not want to be Eastern,” he added, saying that if he were Putin, he would be “nervous” about the revolution that was underway in Ukraine, a former Soviet Republic and Russian ally.

The Arizona senator said the opposition politicians who have taken over are “overjoyed” but also concerned about the “sobering reality” of Ukraine’s economic situation, which is so dire that “the economy is on the verge of collapse,” McCain said. He added that they will need help immediately.

McCain was also highly critical of National Security Advisor Susan Rice, who said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday morning that the notion she misled the American public in the wake of an attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi in September 2012 “is patently false and I think that that's been amply demonstrated.”

After laughing for a minute at a clip of Rice’s words, McCain said he was “almost speechless.”

“The information was totally misleading, totally false and for Susan Rice to say such a thing, I think it's a little embarrassing, to tell you the truth,” he said. 

  • Rebecca Kaplan

    Rebecca Kaplan is a political reporter for CBSNews.com.

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