In one of his signature moments of outspokenness, Arizona Sen. John McCain accused colleague Rand Paul of working for Russian President Vladimir Putin from the Senate floor on Wednesday.
During a discussion of a bill promoting the addition of Montenegro to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), The Daily Beast reports, McCain noted that the Kentucky senator opposed the measure. Speaking from the Senate floor, Sen. McCain said:
“You are achieving the objectives of Vladimir Putin… trying to dismember this small country which has already been the subject an attempted coup.
“If they object, they are now carrying out the desires and ambitions of Vladimir Putin and I do not say that lightly.”
When McCain asked the Senate for a unanimous vote to include the small country into the NATO family, Paul took the mic, expressed his objections, and dramatically stormed out of the room.
McCain called Paul out, then, and according to The Daily Beast, the 80-year-old senator’s voice was shaking with anger.
“I note the senator from Kentucky leaving the floor without justification or any rationale for the action he has just taken. That is really remarkable, that a senator blocking a treaty that is supported by the overwhelming number—perhaps 98, at least, of his colleagues—would come to the floor and object and walk away.”
John McCain has objected loudly to any move that placates Putin or advances the Russian dictator’s manipulation of NATO on several occasions.
Sen. McCain then connected the Republican senator to Russia’s objection to the addition of Montenegro to the alliance:
“The only conclusion you can draw when he walks away is he has no justification for his objection to having a small nation be part of NATO that is under assault from the Russians.
“So I repeat again, the senator from Kentucky is now working for Vladimir Putin.”
A McCain spokesperson told The Daily Beast that Sen. McCain believes that the only party that will benefit from a refusal of Montenegro would be Vladimir Putin.
“Whose government has sought to destroy the NATO alliance, erode confidence in America’s commitments to its allies, overthrow the duly-elected government of Montenegro, and undermine democratic institutions throughout Europe.””
The spokesperson then said that Sen. McCain and the people of Montenegro
“Would appreciate an explanation from Senator Paul as to why he sought to prevent this small, brave country from joining in the defense of the free world.”
Sen. Paul didn’t respond to McCain’s allegations that he was working for Vladimir Putin, stating that his objections were an overextension of the U.S. commitment to NATO, and like most conservatives, framing it as a financial problem:
“The United States is pledged to defend 28 countries in NATO. It is unwise to expand the monetary and military obligations of the United States given the burden of our $20 trillion debt.”
Business Insider reports that Vladimir Putin is “staunchly opposed” to Montenegro joining NATO, which he views as a threat to Russian sovereignty. The website also reports that McCain had promised Dusko Markovic, the Montenegrin Prime Minister in January, that the Senate would ratify the treaty soon. Allegedly, a coup attempt planned by Russian intelligence was made against Markovic and replace it with a pro-Russia regime.
According to The New York Times, the plot was uncovered last November when a pro-Russian mercenary was arrested by the Montenegrin police.
You can watch the conflict between John McCain and Rand Paul on the Senate floor in the video below:
Featured image via screencap