Russian President Vladimir Putin doesn't want democracy in Ukraine because he thinks it would set a bad example for Russians, Sen. John McCain said.
"Vladimir Putin does not want a democracy on his borders. That would be a very bad example, from his point of view, to be set for the Russian people," the Arizona Republican told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Tuesday.
Last month, a protest movement by Ukrainians seeking closer ties with the European Union ousted President Viktor Yanukovych. In the last several days, as many as 16,000 Russian troops landed in the strategic Crimea region and demanded a surrender of Ukrainian forces.
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McCain has had harsh words for President Barack Obama's handling of the Russian invasion of Crimea. On Monday, he called the president "feckless," and charged "nobody believes in America's strength anymore."
McCain defended his criticism, claiming Obama was incorrect when he said the Cold War had been over for 20 years.
"Maybe in the president's eyes, but certainly not in Vladimir Putin's eyes," McCain said.
Russia was likely to keep Crimea, McCain conceded, and predicted, "It's not going to change." He said the United States needs to gauge what Putin's future ambitions are "for the restoration of the Russian empire." He maintained it was important to view Putin for what he is, and "not what we want him to be."
"There is has been a fundamental misreading of Vladimir Putin, his intentions, and things that he will do. There is no doubt that he will not give up in Crimea because of his belief in the near abroad," McCain said.
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