McCain advises US to monitor Putin with 'more clear eyes'

Russian President Vladimir Putin views the divide in Ukraine as a Cold War game, even if President Obama doesn’t, Sen. John McCainJohn McCainPentagon should have a civilian chief to give peace a chance McCain to support waiver for Mattis, Trump team says Senators crafting bill to limit deportations under Trump MORE (R-Ariz.) said in an interview Tuesday.

He told CNN the administration needs to take a different view on Putin.

“I also would not overestimate Putin’s belief that Ukraine is part of Russia,” McCain said. “I’m very concerned about that. I think we ought to look at Mr. Putin with a little more clear eyes. He does believe this is a Cold War game, even if the president doesn’t.” 

The United States can contain Putin, he said, if Ukraine can form a new government quickly.

On Monday, Ukraine’s parliament voted to transfer presidential powers to its speaker, Oleksandr Turchynov, a leader for the country’s opposition movement. Ukraine also issued an arrest warrant for ousted President Viktor Yanukovych.

Asked if he’s confident the White House could beat Putin, McCain said “I do, except that it kind of bothers me a little bit when the president doesn’t realize what Putin’s about.”

“Vladimir Putin still has visions of the Russian empire. I think we need to realize that and treat it accordingly,” he added.