As tributes to John McCain poured in from American politicians, world leaders in several countries had unusual reactions to the passing of the 81-year-old Republican who had served as Arizona’s senator for more than 30 years.
McCain was a longtime, vocal critic of Russia under the rule of President Vladimir Putin, often in recent years taunting the Russian government on his Twitter account. In 2014 he called Russia “a gas station masquerading as a country,” and more recently, he lashed out at Donald Trump over Trump’s unusual coziness with Putin and warmth toward the Russia regime.
After Trump met with Putin in July, a meeting at which Trump was so friendly with Putin that even Russian state media said that he “smells like an agent of the Kremlin,” McCain slammed Trump’s press conference with the Russian political strongman as “one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory,” according to CNBC.
McCain, in what turned out to be one of his final public statements, went on to say that Trump “abased himself… abjectly before a tyrant,” calling Trump’s meeting with Putin “a tragic mistake.”
Following McCain’s death from brain cancer on Saturday, Russia state media on Sunday simply stated that McCain was “an implacable opponent of Russia,” according to BBC Moscow correspondent Steve Rosenberg.
No tribute from Russian state tv, as it reports the death of John McCain: “He was an implacable opponent of Russia, who supported even tougher sanctions…” pic.twitter.com/uNzrbweoYz
— Steve Rosenberg (@BBCSteveR) August 26, 2018
The English-language Russian state run media outlet RT ran an article on McCain which claimed that McCain’s death “caused mixed feelings and triggered a heated debate over the American values represented by the Republican. While some commended McCain’s patriotism, others questioned his moral integrity.” Among the Americans quoted by RT were “alt-right” figure Mike Cernovich who spoke out on Twitter.
In the Russian parliament, Oleg Morozov, a member of the upper house International Affairs Committee, also responded to McCain’s death, according to Russia expert Julia Davis, who posted a reference on Twitter to part of the lawmaker’s statement on the death of McCain, namely the sentence, “The enemy died.”
“He was good at hating Russia, and he is the symbol of modern, openly anti-Russian thinking: Russia cannot be anything other than hostile. A good Russia is a dead Russia,” Morozov wrote in a statement quoted by the government-owned Russian media outlet Sputnik.
Another close ally of Putin, Chechnya’s political strongman Ramzan Kadyrov, was perhaps even more harsh in his response to McCain’s passing. “It’s the will of Allah,” said the leader of the largely Muslim country, according to The Daily Star newspaper. Kadyrov also said that McCain had “an incomprehensible hostility towards Russia. He did not like the very fact of its existence.”