U.S. Senator and former presidential candidate John McCain said on Monday that he believes Russian President Vladimir Putin presents a greater threat than ISIS. In an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, the Republican senator accused Russia of trying to "destroy the fundamental of democracy."
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McCain described the Russian leader as the "premier and most important threat, more so than ISIS."
"I think ISIS can do terrible things. But it's the Russians who tried to destroy the fundamental of democracy and that is to change the outcome of an American election," the Arizona senator told ABC.
While McCain admitted that he has "seen no evidence they succeeded," the Republican asserted that "they tried and they are still trying to change elections. They just tried to affect the outcome of the French election."
McCain spoke to ABC on the same day of Putin's meeting with the newly-elected French President Emmanuel Macron at Versailles, where the Russian leader denied allegations that Moscow meddled in the French election.
Putin said that the fact he met with Marine Le Pen, Macron's far-right rival in the presidential elections, does not mean Russia attempted to sway the race.
McCain also brought up the Ukrainian issue in the interview with ABC, saying that Putin has "dismembered" the country. The Republican senator said that the U.S. should respond to Putin's aggression with sanctions.
"We have done nothing since the election last November to respond to Vladimir Putin's attempt to change the outcome of our elections. So, way to go Vladimir. We haven't responded at all," McCain said.
"Hopefully when we get back from recess the Senate will enact sanctions on Russia."
McCain, a leading Russia critic in U.S. Congress, oversaw the first in a promised series of hearings into allegations that Russia tried to disrupt or influence the U.S. campaign, one of the most bitter in recent history.