U.S. Senator John McCain has said Russian President Vladimir Putin is a bigger threat to global security than the Islamic State (IS) extremist group, and called for increased sanctions on Moscow for allegedly interfering in the U.S. presidential election.
"I think [IS] can do terrible things, and I worry a lot about what is happening with the Muslim faith," McCain told Australian Broadcasting Corp television on May 29.
But "I think he is the premier and most important threat, more so than [IS]," he said, accusing Putin of "dismembering" Ukraine and "putting pressure on the Baltics."
McCain is chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and a leading foreign-policy voice in the U.S. Congress.
He said that while there was no evidence Russia succeeded in changing the outcome of the 2016 U.S. elections, the Kremlin is still trying to influence elections, including the recent French vote.
"I view the Russians as the far greatest challenge that we have," McCain said. "So we need to have increased sanctions."
On Afghanistan, McCain said he believes the national security team assembled by U.S. President Donald Trump is developing a strategy that will lead to "victory" in Afghanistan.