Russia’s"infiltration" into eastern Ukraine and Crimea is a"great danger" that must put the United States on high alert with"a range of options ready in case this continues," Sen. John McCain said Thursday.
In an exclusive interview on"The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV, the veteran Arizona lawmaker and former GOP presidential candidate said Russian President Vladimir Putin has already engineered"the infiltration of his special operations people into Crimea . . . and in the eastern Ukraine."
“It’s a great danger," he said, adding,"I'm very, very, very worried . . . that Vladimir Putin will not go away quietly. He believes that Ukraine is part of Russia," and that"Russia with Ukraine . . . [is] an empire, and without Ukraine . . . a country."
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“We have to be very steadfast and have a range of options ready in case this continues, and I do not mean a war," he said."I do mean certainly retaliation in economic, diplomatic, and other ways if Russia acts in the way that they are beginning to. You can take a page out of Ronald Reagan's book."
Of Thursday’s mysterious docking in Havana of a Russian warship, McCain said,"It’s Putin being Putin."
“He's an old KGB apparatchik colonel," McCain said."He came on the scene when Russia was in great disarray and there was a lot of corruption and a lot of disorder and he brought order to Russia — and he now has the ambitions of restoring the old Russian empire."
On his own political turf, McCain said he was"pleased" at Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer’s veto of a controversial bill that would have allowed business owners, on the basis of their religious convictions, to refuse services to gays.
But he said he was"sorry that this controversy arose."
“Hopefully we can put it behind us and again prove to the American people that we're the greatest place in America to play and to live and to work," he said, recalling"controversy about legislation a few years ago concerning immigration" that "hurt us quite badly" and included"significant threats, including the Super Bowl, including Apple, including others."
“There are protections for people's religious beliefs that we have to be aware of but at the same time, we also have to be sure that we are not discriminatory," he said."This legislation . . . was not something that was necessary. Our governor stated it very well when she exercised the veto."
McCain also decried Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s claim that Obamacare"horror stories" were untrue.
“It's such a bizarre statement that you wonder. You know out in that part of the country there's been a lot of legalization of certain substances," he joked, adding "I’m sure he hasn’t" smoked marijuana,"but it’s impossible to explain away a statement like that."
McCain added that Reid, if he really believed the stories were untrue,"is totally out of touch with reality and with the American people who overwhelmingly reject Obamacare and overwhelmingly want us to fix it. And that's what we Republicans are going to do if we get the majority, which I believe we have a chance of — a good chance of."
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