Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) declared Friday that “we are all Ukrainians” in response to the news that Russia had taken over parts of Ukrainian Crimea.
“We are all Ukrainians,” McCain said in an interview with TIME magazine published Friday. The comments came ahead of President Barack Obama’s announcement that he would address the events.
McCain said that Russian President Vladimir Putin thinks “this is a chess match reminiscent of the Cold War and we need to realize that and act accordingly.” The senior senator from Arizona added that that didn’t mean he foresaw “a conflict with Russia, but we need to take certain measures that would convince Putin that there is a very high cost to actions that he is taking now.”
The comment was a near carbon copy to what McCain said in 2008 when Russia invaded Georgia. At the time McCain said, “I know I speak for every American I say to him today, we are all Georgians.”
Later on Friday afternoon McCain tweeted that TIME had only partially gotten his what he was saying.
What I actually told @TIME: We are all Ukrainians, Georgians, Burmese & Tibetans – we’re with all those struggling for their human rights
— John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) February 28, 2014
This story was updated.