Sen. John McCain responded to Russian President Vladimir Putin calling him “nuts” Thursday with a simple tweet: “Dear Vlad, is it something I said?”
Putin had delivered a 4 1/2 hour rant on Russian TV, answering questions during a call-in show, and touched on a whole host of topics: Among them were McCain, the recent protests in Russia, and even the killing of former Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi, which he accused the U.S. of having a hand in.
“He has a lot of blood of peaceful civilians on his hands. He must relish and can’t live without the disgusting, repulsive scenes of the killing of Gadhafi,” Putin said of McCain, referring to the Arizona Republican’s role as a combat pilot and prisoner of war in Vietnam.
“Mr. McCain was captured in Vietnam and they kept him not just in prison, but in a pit for several years,” Putin added. “Anyone [in his place] would go nuts.”
McCain had goaded Putin last week, declaring in another tweet: “Dear Vlad, The
#ArabSpring is coming to a neighborhood near you.” He followed that post up with a speech on the Senate floor in which he expressed similar sentiments. In October, he had said Gadhafi’s killing should make “dictators” like Putin “nervous.”
Putin also denounced the recent massive demonstrations that have been occurring throughout Russia, calling for an end to his rule.
According to the Telegraph, he mocked the protesters and said he thought the white ribbons they had pinned to their clothing as a sign of peace were condoms.
“I decided that it was an anti-AIDS campaign…that they pinned on contraceptives, I beg your pardon, only folding them in a strange way,” he said.
Still, Putin seemed unmoved by the criticism, and vowed he would leave office “within a day” if he ever felt the Russian people did not support him, according to the Telegraph. He is expected to be re-elected to the Russian presidency next year, though the protests indicate it might not be as easy as he anticipated.
Putin also outright suggested U.S. forces were involved in Gadhafi’s death in October.
“Who did this?” Putin said. “Drones, including American ones. They attacked his column. Then – through the special forces, who should not have been there – they brought in the so-called opposition and fighters, and killed him without court or investigation.”
The Pentagon quickly dismissed Putin’s charge as “ludicrous.”