Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) criticized Russian President Vladimir Putin for siding with "tyrannies," perpetuating bigotry, censoring the media and endorsing the Syrian regime in an opinion piece published on Russian news site Pravda.
In the op-ed, titled "Russians deserve better than Putin," McCain claimed he's "more pro-Russian" than the country's own leaders.
"I make that claim because I respect your dignity and your right to self-determination," he wrote. "I believe you should live according to the dictates of your conscience, not your government. I believe you deserve the opportunity to improve your lives in an economy that is built to last and benefits the many, not just the powerful few."
Reminding readers that a Russian citizen would not have been allowed to publish such a statement, McCain criticized the Russian government for failing its constituents with an unsustainable economy, discriminatory laws and destructive alliances. He pointed to Russia's support for the Syrian regime as an example.
"How has [Putin] strengthened Russia’s international stature? By refusing to consider the massacre of innocents, the plight of millions of refugees, the growing prospect of a conflagration that engulfs other countries in its flames an appropriate subject for the world’s attention," McCain wrote. "He is not enhancing Russia’s global reputation. He is destroying it. He has made her a friend to tyrants and an enemy to the oppressed, and untrusted by nations that seek to build a safer, more peaceful and prosperous world."
The op-ed comes a week after Putin wrote his own opinion piece for The New York Times, in which he warned against military intervention and American exceptionalism.
"It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation," Putin wrote.
After reading Putin's op-ed, McCain told CNN's Jake Tapper that he'd "love" to respond.
"We have to remember who Putin is," McCain said. "He's a KGB colonel apparatchik, who has never abandoned the Russian ambitions for an empire, and influence in the world."