Friendship award from Russian President Vladimir Putin? While Trump’s secretary of state nominee was happy to oblige such honors, Senator John McCain is not interested.
McCain just slammed Rex Tillerson, Trump’s Secretary of State pick, for accepting an award from Vladimir Putin three years ago. The award, handed out at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, was called the “Order of Friendship,” according to a CNN report. Tillerson and another Exxon Mobile executive took home Putin’s buddy prize.
The Republican Senator from Arizona is apparently unimpressed with the whole affair. On the radio Tuesday, McCain called Tillerson’s cozy ties to the Russian leader “troublesome.”
“He was given an award by Vladimir Putin, I was sanctioned by Vladimir Putin. Honestly, Vladimir Putin is a thug, a murder and a killer,” McCain said.
The senator went on to blame Putin for the extensive carnage in the siege on Aleppo.
“This guy is the classic KGB. The list of the atrocities that have been committed under his order goes on and on,” McCain continued. “I would never accept an award from Vladimir Putin because you give some credence, some credibility to this butcher, this KGB agent, which is what he is.”
Tillerson’s ties to Putin and the Russian government extend far beyond a plaque at a dinner soiree. As CEO of Exxon Mobile, Tillerson led the charge in drilling more oil out of Russian soil. He opposed sanctions on Putin and the Russian government in the wake of Russia’s annexation of The Crimea region of Ukraine, per The New York Times.
It appears McCain, a prisoner of the Vietnam war, and the incoming president have a vastly different idea what type of sand box the U.S. should be playing in. Given McCain’s position as chairman of the Senate Committee on Armed Services, this war of words isn’t likely to end anytime soon.