Sen. John McCain warned that the United States and Europe should avoid allowing Russia to set a precedent in Ukraine that could be later used for an incursion into Poland.
"If Vladimir Putin gets away with saying he's defending the rights of Russian speaking peoples, that is the same thing — excuse that Hitler used," the Arizona Republican said, invoking arguments made by Nazi Germany about the ethnic German population of the Sudetenland.
McCain has long been among the Senate's most strident critics of Putin , repeatedly criticizing the Obama administration's views about the Russian president.
"There are ... Russian-speaking people in Poland. There's ... Russian speaking-people in Romania," McCain said. "There's plenty of places where he may feel he has to intervene ... on behalf of Russian-speaking people."
McCain said he didn't particularly care whether sanctions against Russia are bundled together with an aid package of $1 billion or more of loan guarantees to Ukraine. Those discussions are currently ongoing . McCain said things should move quickly, even if it wouldn't lead to the Russians leaving Crimea.
"As I've said all along, he believes that Crimea and Sevastopol is part of the Russian empire, despite the fact that in 1994, the Russians signed a solemn agreement saying the Crimea was part of Ukraine," McCain said.
"We want to do everything we can that is with Europe, but if Europe decides not to, we also have to act," McCain said. "We're supposed to be the world's superpower, and we should act like it, which we have not done."
He also made another bold statement about fallout from recent events in another part of the globe.
"Now I predict to you that the Chinese are going to ratchet up over the Senkakus Islands," McCain said, referring to the disputed Japanese territory that the Chinese call the Diaoyu Islands.
McCain also previewed what's sure to be a heated debate on the future of military programs Wednesday morning, when Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel comes to the Hill for the regular scheduled hearing on the fiscal 2015 Pentagon budget request.
McCain serves on both the Foreign Relations and Armed Services panels.
"It's exquisite timing that after this, tomorrow Chuck Hagel is going to testify before the Armed Services Committee to basically the United States Army on the belief that there will be no more land wars," McCain said. "You know how many times we tried that in the 20th century?"