Sen. Charles Schumer on Monday said Russian President Vladimir Putin is trying to “bully” the U.S. in an attempt to rebuild his country’s lost empire.

“Being an old KGB guy, being brought up when the Soviet Union and the United States went head to head, he resents that Russia is no longer the major power in the world that it used to be,” the New York Democrat said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program. “They’re no longer a big power.”

By dismissing and embarrassing the U.S., Schumer said Putin hopes to lift Russia back into super power status.

“He’s trying to build [Russia] back. Now ... there are two ways to build it back. One is to grow the economy, make it a more robust, democratic place, and there are new ideas. The other is to step on somebody’s back, namely ours. And he’s doing the second way, and I don’t think we should tolerate it,” he said.

Schumer said he doesn’t want the United States to boycott the 2014 Winter Olympic games in Russia over the country’s recent crackdown on gay rights, including a new anti-gay propaganda law. But the Democrat did suggest that athletes of all nations wave the rainbow gay-rights flag during the opening ceremonies as a protest.

“That would be pretty embarrassing for Putin,” he said.