On Sunday, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Moscow would be considerably cutting the US diplomatic presence in Russia, equalizing the diplomatic missions of each side to 455 people in both countries, thereby forcing 755 US personnel to leave Russia.
The US State Department condemned Russia's "regrettable" and "uncalled for" act, which Russian officials and analysts have said was a response to looming US sanctions, but also to Washington's expulsion of Russian diplomats from the US and the seizure of Russian diplomatic property late last year.
Commenting on the Russian president's decision, Republican Senator and anti-Russia hawk John McCain tweeted that he was 'not surprised' by Moscow's decision to send hundreds of US diplomats home, adding that President Putin "and his cronies" would be made to "pay [the] price for attacking our democracy."
Not surprising Putin throws out US diplomats, but he & his cronies will still pay price for attacking our democracy https://t.co/HfKsZwaq7K— John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) 31 июля 2017 г.
McCain has a tendency for hurling obscenities when addressing Putin, and has called him a 'butcher', a 'thug', a 'murderer', a 'killer' and a 'KGB agent', among other epithets. The Kremlin has described him as someone with a "maniacal hatred towards our country," but has otherwise generally ignored his remarks in the past. Speaking to film director Oliver Stone, Russian President Vladimir Putin even revealed that he liked McCain for his patriotism, but added that the senator was the product of a bygone era.
Commenting on Senator McCain's remarks for Radio Sputnik, political analyst Nikolai Shlyamin said that McCain's approach toward Russia was understandable, if regrettable.
"Our response [regarding the 755 US diplomats] will never be recognized as justified," the observer said. "Especially now, amid the ongoing 'big geopolitical game' in which old leaders are giving way to new ones, and when all the old frozen geopolitical conflicts are being aggravated."
According to Shlymain, Russia must take it as a given "that the current US elite (not just the administration, not just officials, not the president, but the elite which runs the country) has an extremely negative attitude toward Russia, as a state which can resist the global leadership of the United States."
As for McCain's comment about defending American "democracy," Shlymain said that in his view, "American democracy is not a democracy, but a desperate attempt to stay on the world Olympus, using absolutely totalitarian measures."