The US senator says he is “nervous from time to time” about Donald Trump's approach to national security
US Republican Senator John McCain has claimed Vladimir Putin is more of a threat to global security than Islamic State.
Senator McCain was speaking during an ABC television interview as part of a visit to Australia.
His comments come amid multiple US investigations into alleged efforts by Russia to influence last year’s election campaign - including any potential links between the Trump campaign and Russia.
In response to a question about how much of a threat he considers the Russian president to be, McCain responded: “I think he is the premier and most important threat - more so than ISIS.
“I think ISIS can do terrible things, and I worry a lot about what is happening with the Muslim faith [...] But it is the Russians who tried to destroy the very fundamental of democracy - and that is to change the outcome of an American election.”
McCain suggested that the US had not “responded at all” to Russia’s alleged efforts ahead of last November’s election (despite sanctions issued by Barack Obama late last year over suspected Russia-linked hacking efforts) - but also noted that he has seen "no evidence" that Russia succeeded in swaying the vote.
After referencing allegations that Russia also attempted to interfere in the recent French presidential election, McCain added: “I view Vladimir Putin - who has dismembered Ukriane, a sovereign nation... who is putting pressure on the Baltics - I view the Russians as [among] the far greatest challenges that we have.”
Amid a series of White House controversies involving the Russia investigation, President Trump has insisted "there was no collusion between my campaign and any foreign entity".
McCain - who unsuccessfully ran for the US presidency in 2008 - also indicated he is “nervous from time to time” about the current US president's approach to national security.
While he said that he believes President Trump accepts the advice of his national security team ‘most of the time’, he added: "Can I tell you that he does [that] all the time? No. Does it bother me? Yes, it bothers me.”