McCain Tweets Putin: ‘Dear Vlad, Is It Something I Said?’

By Matt Cover | December 15, 2011 | 10:49 AM EST

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) (AP File Photo)

( – Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) used his Twitter account Thursday to once again tweak Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin:

“Dear Vlad, is it something I said?” McCain tweeted. The tweet linked to the Associated Press report saying that an angry Putin had called McCain “nuts.”

Putin’s “nuts” comment came in response to another tweet that McCain sent out on Dec. 5: “Dear Vlad, The #ArabSpring is coming to a neighborhood near you,” McCain tweeted.  That tweet linked to a Wall Street Journal article reporting that Putin’s United Russie party lost a large number of seats in the Duma, Russia’s lower house of Parliament.

“Mr. McCain was captured in Vietnam and they kept him not just in prison, but in a pit for several years,” Putin was quoted as saying. “Anyone (in his place) would go nuts.”

Putin made the comments on Russian TV Thursday in an appearance addressing his party’s weaker-than-expected showing in national elections.

McCain has been a vocal critic of Putin’s domination of Russian politics, saying that his long tenure at the top amounted to “backsliding” away from democracy.

In a floor statement on Dec. 7, Sen. McCain again likened protests over the Duma election to the “Arab Spring” anti-authoritarian protests that have rocked the Arab world for most of the year.

“Throughout this year, I have said that the demand for dignity and justice and democracy that is shaking the Arab world to its foundations will not be confined to that one region alone. It will spread. It will inspire others,” McCain said.

“And it appears that message may be resonating with people in Russia. We should hope that it does resonate, and resonate in a peaceful manner, because we agree with a growing number of Russians who clearly believe that they deserve better.”

Putin, in response to these criticisms, accused McCain of having “blood” on his hands because of his service as a fighter pilot and his support for the international effort to remove Libyan dictator Muammar Gadhafi: “He has a lot of blood of peaceful civilians on his hands. He must relish and can't live without the disgusting, repulsive scenes of the killing of Gadhafi,” Putin said.

McCain laughed off Putin’s insults in an interview with Fox News on Thursday.

McCain has said he does not oppose engagement with Russia, and he has noted the Obama administration’s “sincerity and diligence” in trying to improve relations between the two countries.

“I would simply ask, what has been accomplished? What has been the result of the Administration’s good-faith desire for a so-called reset of relations with Russia?” McCain said on Dec. 7. “The answer, I’m afraid, is preciously little. Yes, there have been some areas of progress, but even those minor steps may now be getting rolled back.”

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