US Senator John McCain on Saturday slammed Russian President Vladimir Putin and listed a litany of alleged violations Moscow had committed against its neighbours under his rule.
“President Putin’s rule has been characterised by the dismantling of the independent media, a fierce crackdown on the political opposition, the prosecution of a bloody war against Chechnya’s civilian population, and a new assertiveness that challenges the democratic and territorial integrity of Russia’s sovereign neighbours,” he said.
McCain, who was named Friday to head an inquiry into the use of intelligence that led to the Iraq war, said that Russia had flouted international military treaties and occupied parts of Moldova and Georgia.
Known as a frank speaker, McCain surprised many in the audience of defence luminaries gathered at the 40th annual security conference in Munich, southern Germany, with the vehemence of his condemnation.
He said that Russia’s access to Euro-Atlantic institutions was based on the understanding that Putin was committed to free markets, the rule of law, democracy, press freedom and the respect of its neighbours.
“These now appear to be false premises,” he said.
“It is time to send a strong signal that undemocratic behaviour and threats to the sovereignty and liberty of her neighbours will not profit Russia … but will exclude her from the company of western democracies and consign her to the distrust and misfortune she had begun to escape in the more hopeful days of her liberation from tyranny.”
McCain was speaking during a debate on the future of the NATO alliance, whose enlargement in June to the Baltic states has Russia feeling increasingly threatened.