11:41 GMT02 June 2020
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    US Senator John McCain said Monday in an interview he believes Russian President Vladimir Putin poses a bigger threat to the US and world security than Daesh terrorists.

    McCain told the Australian Broadcasting Company's 7.30 program as he visited Canberra for security talks that although it is true that jihadist radicals can do a lot of harm, it was Russia that had jeopardized democracy by allegedly interfering in last year's election in the US.

    "I view the Russians as the far greatest challenge that we have," he said.

    Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko centre, Chairman of Senate Armed Services Committee, US Senator John McCain, centre left, US Senator Lindsey Graham, centre right, and US Senator Amy Klobuchar pose for photo with the Ukrainian marines, during their working trip to the Donetsk region to congratulate Ukrainian servicemen on the upcoming New Year, in the village Shyrokine, eastern Ukraine, Saturday, Dec. 31, 2016
    © AP Photo / Mikhail Palinchak/Presidential Press Service
    Moscow has repeatedly refuted the US allegations, saying it has no intention of meddling in the internal affairs of other states. Last week, Press Secretary of the Russian Embassy in the United States Nikolay Lakhonin condemned the spread of anti-Russia hysteria, saying that the US establishment and the country's mainstream media have "zombified each other" with the perception of Russia as a "hostile foreign power."

    MCCain admitted he has seen no evidence Russia succeeded in its effort to influence the outcome of the election but insisted that it tried and continues to try to change elections in other countries.

    "They just tried to affect the outcome of the French election," McCain said, likely referring to the hack attack on then-French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron's campaign two days before the election, which media were quick to pin on Russia.

    Meanwhile, former US President Barack Obama released an official video ahead of the election, publicly endorsing Macron. France's Republican Party MP Thierry Mariani said the video highlighted the double standards in politics.

    "Imagine for a second that Vladimir Putin endorsed Marine Le Pen — everyone would've screamed bloody murder," he told Sputnik.

    McCain said in an interview it is important that the US eventually responds to Russia's "meddling in elections" with sanctions.

    "We have done nothing since the election last November to respond to Vladimir Putin's attempt to change the outcome of our elections. So, way to go Vladimir. We haven't responded at all," he said.

    "Hopefully when we get back from recess the Senate will enact sanctions on Russia."

    According to a database compiled by political researcher Dov Levin at Carnegie Mellon University, the US has attempted to influence the outcome of a presidential election in another country 81 times between 1946 and 200. The database does not include US support for coups and other regime change efforts.    


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