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John McCain Was Right: Vladimir Putin is a Thug

I looked in Mr. Putin’s eyes and I saw three letters — a K, a G and B” – Senator John McCain

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As the world watches to see whether Russia will invade Ukraine in the coming days, the McCain Institute at Arizona State University is reflecting on Senator John McCain’s famous words: “I looked in Mr. Putin’s eyes and I saw three letters – a K, a G, and a B.” The McCain Institute issues the following statement:

“John McCain was right: Vladimir Putin is a thug. He saw KGB in Putin’s eyes, and that’s exactly what the rest of the world is seeing now. Putin’s actions demonstrate the grave dangers of authoritarianism and underscore the need for free nations to stand firm in defense of democracy.

“Flexing unchecked power, Putin’s belligerence toward Ukraine is proving the case we’ve been making for so long – that democracy is the best way to unify society, secure peace and create broad prosperity. Accordingly, Western nations are uniting in a reaffirmation of their commitment to democratic principles, a goal that has eluded presidents since the end of the Cold War.

“Ultimately, the weight of authoritarianism is its biggest flaw. It crushes opportunity and forces people into bondage. Putin’s power grab in Ukraine represents a watershed moment in shifting the global balance of power away from authoritarianism and toward freedom.”

Senator McCain spoke to tens of thousands of protestors in Kyiv, Ukraine, during the Maidan Square protests in 2013, where he captured this video of the crowd. “We are here to support your just cause, the sovereign right of Ukraine to determine its own destiny freely and independently,” Senator McCain said at the time.

Senator McCain was a forceful advocate for those seeking to break free from the chains of authoritarianism. Learn more here.

About the McCain Institute at Arizona State University
Inspired by Senator John S. McCain and his family’s legacy of public service, the McCain Institute is fighting to secure democracy and alliances, defend human rights, protect the vulnerable and advance character-driven leadership, both at home and around the world.

About Arizona State University
Arizona State University has developed a new model for the American research university, creating an institution that is committed to access, excellence and impact. ASU measures itself by those it includes, not by those it excludes. As the prototype for a New American University, ASU pursues research that contributes to the public good, and ASU assumes major responsibility for the economic, social and cultural vitality of the communities that surround it.

Publish Date
February 12, 2022