Speaking to Fox News Sunday anchor Chris Wallace, McCain lashed out against President Trump for hosting the Russian foreign minister in the White House. Lavrov, the senator said, "had no business in the Oval Office."
McCain went on to call the foreign minister "the stooge of a thug and murderer," his choice of words to describe the Russian president, and claimed that President Putin had "committed human rights violations all over the place."
Russian officials couldn't leave the insults without a response. For her part, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that McCain's comments showed that there didn't seem to be enough politicians inside the US itself for the senator to insult with his "poison."
"Apart from pity, McCain has not brought forth any emotions [among Russians] for a long time now," she added.
Russian Senate Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Konstantin Kosachev echoed Zakharova's words, saying Russia should just ignore McCain's rhetoric. Duma Foreign Affairs Committee Deputy Chairman Dmitri Novikov, meanwhile, said that little more is to be expected from an old Cold Warrior like McCain. "McCain is an old Cold Warrior, a well-known provocateur, and a dreadful Russophobe. Apart from these kinds of insults and boorishness, there's little else to expect of him," Novikov said.
McCain's words also provoked a response on Twitter. While some Trump opponents and #RussiaDidIt conspiracy nuts approved of the senator's remarks, others, even those professing to have no love for Russia, suggested that he was out of line.
Other users, occasionally using language that was less than diplomatic themselves, slammed McCain for his apparent "thirst for war" with Russia.
McCain talking Russia just called Lavrov a stooge for Putin. McCain has lost his mind with his hate for Russia and his thirst for war.— Possum Jones (@kjon1234561234) 21 мая 2017 г.
Others still began digging for what they thought may be some of the reasons for McCain's outbursts, besides his Cold War heritage.
Listen to Putin's eye-opening speech about US Foreign Policy and McCain he made four years agohttps://t.co/2CHXzepYiW— Intelligent Dad (@IntelligentDad) 22 мая 2017 г.
Russian Twitter users also had a few words of their own for the senator.
Все таки вьетнамцы мозг ему отбили... "Маккейн назвал Лаврова «марионеткой головореза и убийцы»"— Тот самый УМка..... (@UmkaVS) 22 мая 2017 г.
"McCain called Lavrov a 'puppet of a thug and a murderer'. It seems the Vietnamese caused him to lose his mind after all."
"McCain insulted Putin and Lavrov. Just who does this Yankee think he is?"
Senator McCain has repeatedly attacked President Trump for any attempts to normalize relations with Russia. Earlier this month, together fellow Russia hawk Lindsey Graham, the senator frantically moved to try to figure out how to impose new US sanctions against Moscow after the suspension of a key bill proposing new restrictions over claims of Russian meddling in US elections.