McCain warns against another 'reset' with Russia

McCain warns against another 'reset' with Russia
© Victoria Sarno Jordan

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCainJohn Sidney McCainOvernight Defense: Trump unveils new missile defense plan | Dems express alarm | Shutdown hits Day 27 | Trump cancels Pelosi foreign trip | Senators offer bill to prevent NATO withdrawal Bipartisan senators reintroduce bill to prevent Trump from withdrawing from NATO Mark Kelly considering Senate bid as Arizona Dems circle McSally MORE (R-Ariz.) on Tuesday warned against seeking another "reset" of U.S.-Russia relations, a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin called President-elect Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump knocks BuzzFeed over Cohen report, points to Russia dossier DNC says it was targeted by Russian hackers after fall midterms BuzzFeed stands by Cohen report: Mueller should 'make clear what he's disputing' MORE saying he wanted to improve relations. 

"We should place as much faith in such statements as any other made by a former KGB agent who has plunged his country into tyranny, murdered his political opponents, invaded his neighbors, threatened America's allies, and attempted to undermine America's elections," McCain said in a statement. 

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Trump's statements on Russia won criticism from Democrats and Republicans alike during the presidential campaign. 

Trump talked on the campaign trail about cooperating with Putin in Syria against Islamic extremists. He has also complimented the Russian leader, saying he was a stronger leader than President Obama.

Trump and Putin spoke on Monday by phone, during which the president-elect said that he looked forward to a "strong and enduring" relationship with Russia and its people, according to a statement released by the transition team. 

The Kremlin said in a statement the two leaders "agreed to assess the current very poor state of Russian-American relations, but also spoke in favor of active joint work to their normalization ... in the direction of constructive cooperation on a wide range of issues.”

McCain, who battled with Trump during the Republican presidential primary and said he could not vote for the GOP nominee at one point, said a reset would be a huge mistake. 

“The Obama Administration’s last attempt at resetting relations with Russia culminated in Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and military intervention in the Middle East," he said. 

McCain noted Russia's military support for Syrian President Bashar Assad's civil war against anti-regime rebels, some of whom are backed by the U.S., and said working with Russia could mean complicity in the "butchery" of the Syrian people. 

“Vladimir Putin has rejoined Bashar Assad in his barbaric war against the Syrian people with the resumption of large-scale Russian air and missile strikes in Idlib and Homs. Another brutal assault on the city of Aleppo could soon follow," he said. 

"At the very least, the price of another ‘reset’ would be complicity in Putin and Assad’s butchery of the Syrian people. That is an unacceptable price for a great nation. When America has been at its greatest, it is when we have stood on the side those fighting tyranny. That is where we must stand again," he added.