Wed Feb 8, 2017 1:54AM
Picture taken on January 13, 2015 shows US Senator John McCain speaking during a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. (Photo by AFP)
Picture taken on January 13, 2015 shows US Senator John McCain speaking during a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. (Photo by AFP)

US Republican Senator John McCain has harshly criticized a recent argument by President Donald Trump that Washington and Moscow are morally equivalent.

In a speech on the Senate floor on Tuesday, McCain said there cannot be any comparison on moral grounds between Russia, led by President Vladimir Putin, and the United States.

"There is no moral equivalence between that butcher and thug and KGB colonel and the United States of America. The country that Ronald Reagan used to call a shining city on a hill," the US senator said.

McCain added that to "allege some kind of moral equivalence between the two is either terribly misinformed or incredibly biased. Neither can be accurate in any way."     

The Arizona senator made the comments after Trump told Fox News that it would be unfair to characterize the Russian president as a "killer" because there have been many killers in the United States and Washington is not so innocent.

McCain also listed a number of Putin’s critics and journalists, allegedly been killed by the government in Russia.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (2nd L) answers questions at the US Capitol February 7, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by AFP)

Two days earlier, another Republican senator, Mitch McConnell, had also appeared on CNN, rejecting any “equivalency” between the two states.

McCain, however, has been a virulent critic of Russia and the new US president, who has repeatedly cast doubt over the claim that Russia launched cyberattacks on the US during the last year's presidential election.

On December 22, former US president Barack Obama announced a series of economic sanctions against Russia, as well as expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats, over allegations that it interfered in the 2016 presidential election through widespread hacking attacks.

McCain argued that punitive measures against Russia were imposed in response to the Kremlin’s interfering actions in Ukraine and Syria. He also stressed that Moscow was still unwilling to change its behavior and therefore Washington should keep the sanctions in place.