McCain: If Putin pushes, US biz pull back

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The U.S. might need to pressure some of its biggest corporations to suspend their operations in Russia, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said in an Friday interview.

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McCain told Bloomberg Television that it would be “a tough call,” but that companies like ExxonMobil, Ford, General Electric and Pepsi might have to pull out or roll back their presence in Russia if President Vladimir Putin doesn’t withdraw troops from Ukraine's border.

"If we declare sanctions of a certain kind with their companies and corporations, obviously it would inhibit their way to do business, their ability to do business there,” McCain said. “We don't want to hurt our own economy.”

Still, McCain also insisted that the sort of sanctions that could affect titans of American business are a long way off, even as he noted that former President Jimmy Carter ­– not one of the Arizona Republican’s favorite past presidents – took strong steps against the Soviet Union in the 1970s.

“These kinds of sanctions you're talking about would only be if he went much further. It would only be considered if he went much further,” McCain said on Bloomberg’s “Political Capital.”

“I think we have to just understand that if we let this kind of thing unchecked, it not only allows Putin a free reign, but what's the message around the world?"

McCain’s comments came the same day that President Obama told Putin during a phone call that a de-escalation of the crisis is possible “only if Russia pulls back its troops and does not take any steps to further violate Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty,” according to the White House.

The Arizona senator also told Bloomberg that he is becoming more worried that Putin will strike deeper into Ukraine.

“I did not predict that he would move into Ukraine and I still think that he won't.  But, you don't keep troops massed on the border of a country for no reason,” McCain said. “Look, if you'd asked me about three or four days ago, I'd have said I believe not.  Now I'm not sure because he's got these troops.”