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McCain unloads on Putin during Mattis confirmation hearing: 'He needs us as his enemy

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Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) unloaded on Russian President Vladimir Putin Thursday during Defense Secretary-designate Gen. James Mattis’ confirmation hearing.

McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said that, under Putin, Russia has “invaded Ukraine, annexed Crimea, threatened NATO allies, intervened militarily in Syria, leaving a trail of death and destruction and broken promises in his wake.”

“Russia’s military has targeted Syrian hospitals and first responders with precision weapons,” McCain added. “Russia supplied the weapons that shot down a commercial aircraft in Ukraine. Russia’s war on Ukraine has killed thousands of Ukrainian soldiers and civilians.”

The senator pointed out that Putin’s “disrespect for our nation” is evidenced by Russia’s deliberate interference in the November election through “cyber attacks and a disinformation campaign designed to weaken America and discredit Western values.”

McCain said that he has watched three presidents fail to improve relations with Russia — and those failures were not due to “a lack of good faith and effort on the U.S. side”: "Putin wants to be our enemy. He needs us as his enemy. He will never be our partner, including in fighting ISIL. He believes that strengthening Russia means weakening America."

“We must proceed realistically on this basis,” McCain continued, adding that the United States must display strength to any “adversary that seeks to undermine our national interest and challenge the world order.”

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