September 27, 2008 / 2:50 AM / 10 years ago

McCain blasts Russia in debate as KGB-run

OXFORD, Mississippi (Reuters) - Republican presidential candidate John McCain said Russia had a “KGB apparatchik-run” government and accused his Democratic rival, Barack Obama, of being naive over Russia’s conflict with Georgia in South Ossetia.

Republican presidential nominee Senator John McCain speaks during the first U.S. presidential debate with Democratic presidential nominee Senator Barack Obama in Oxford, Mississippi, September 26, 2008. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

“Russia has now become a nation fueled by petro-dollars that has basically become a KGB apparatchik-run government,. I looked in Mr. Putin’s eyes and I saw three letters — a K, a G and B,” McCain said in the first presidential debate between the two candidates.

His comments about looking into the Russian prime minister’s eyes was an ironic reference to President George W. Bush’s comment early in his presidency that he had looked into the then Russian president’s eyes and got a sense of his soul.

Both Obama and McCain agreed that Georgia and Ukraine should be allowed to join the NATO alliance — which Russia has fiercely opposed — and Obama said they should be given an immediate plan for membership.

Reporting by Randall Mikkelsen, Editing by Frances Kerry

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