McCain on Thursday hit back, saying Putin was feeling shaken by the massive protests against the country's most recent and possibly fraudulent Duma election.

"I believe that the reason that Mr. Putin reacted the way he did is I believe that he has been shaken, as he should have been, by the massive demonstrations that took place in Moscow and in other cities in Russia, and it will be very interesting on Dec. 24 to see how large or whether there will be demonstrations concerning the government that in many ways has turned to kleptocracy and the abuse of human rights," said McCain. 

Organizers of the first round of protests in Moscow have promised even larger demonstrations on the day before Christmas.

McCain also joked that after years of working together on the Armed Services Committee, his Democratic counterpart, Sen. Carl LevinCarl Milton LevinSen. Gillibrand, eyeing 2020 bid, rankles some Democrats The Hill's 12:30 Report Congress needs bipartisanship to fully investigate Russian influence MORE (D-Mich.), might agree he was "nuts."

"Now I know that my friend from Michigan may think there is some veracity to the last sentence," joked McCain.

But Levin also took a swing at Putin from the floor, suggesting it might not be long before the Russian people decide to vote him out of power.

"I just wish we had a chance to straiten out Putin about Sen. McCain, but I don't think we will have that opportunity but maybe his own people will do so in a free election some day," said Levin.