U.S. senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, on a visit to Georgia, say they would urge for stronger sanctions against Russia after cyber attacks during the U.S. presidential election in November. Nathan Frandino reports.
U.S. Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham say they're ready to make 2017 a year of offense against Russian President Vladimir Putin. On a visit to U.S. regional ally Georgia, the two Republican defense hawks made clear their position on Russia's alleged efforts to influence the U.S. presidential election. (SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. SENATOR, LINDSEY GRAHAM, SAYING: "We hope to make 2017 a year of offense. We believe that (Russian President Vladimir) Putin has hacked into our elections in America, that he's trying to undermine democracy all over the world and it's time for new sanctions to hit him hard as an individual, his energy sector, his banking sector." Russia has denied U.S. accusations of cyber attacks. Putin suggested during his end of the year news conference that the U.S. Democratic Party was trying to blame its election loss on external factors. U.S. President Barack Obama later expelled 35 Russian suspected spies and imposed sanctions on two Russian intelligence agencies. McCain and Graham both believe more is needed. On the border with Georgia's breakaway Republic of South Ossetia, McCain urged a strong response. (SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. SENATOR, JOHN MCCAIN, SAYING: "I believe that we must continue to improve our relations and understand that Vladimir Putin - unless we stand up to him - will continue his aggression. And we must stand up to Vladimir Putin." Whether the U.S. introduces new measures likely depends on President-elect Donald Trump, who has praised Putin and has shown plans to patch up badly frayed relations with Moscow.