On Thursday night, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) called for Russians to take matters into their own hands and assassinate Russian President Vladimir Putin, arguing it would be the quickest way to end the war in Ukraine.
In a statement on Twitter, the senator asked, “Is there a Brutus in Russia? Is there a more successful Colonel Stauffenberg in the Russian military?”
In a reference to the Roman general who murdered Julius Caesar and the Nazi officer who attempted and failed to assassinate Hitler, Graham suggested that “The only way this ends is for somebody in Russia to take this guy out. You would be doing your country — and the world — a great service.”
“The only people who can fix this are the Russian people,” he continued. “Easy to say, hard to do. Unless you want to live in darkness for the rest of your life, be isolated from the rest of the world in abject poverty, and live in darkness you need to step up to the plate.”
Graham justified his remarks in an interview with Fox News’ Fox and Friends, where he reiterated his stance, stating that he hopes someone in Russia understands that Putin is “destroying Russia and you need to take this guy out by any means possible.”
Russian officials condemned Graham's remarks, Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov told reporters, “Unfortunately, in such an extremely tense atmosphere, there is a hysterical escalation of Russophobia. These days, not everyone manages to maintain sobriety, I would even say sanity, and many lose their mind.”
Russia’s ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov said Graham’s statement was “unacceptable and outrageous,” adding that the degree of Russophobia and hatred of Russia in the United States is “off the scale.”
“It is impossible to believe that a senator of a country that promotes its moral values as a 'guiding star' for all mankind could afford to call for terrorism as a way to achieve Washington’s goals in the international arena,” he added. The ambassador called for an official explanation and condemnation of the “criminal” comments.
Graham fired back during his interview with Fox News, telling the ambassador that he is supporting a war criminal who is engaged in war crimes.
Graham did not escape criticism from either his fellow Republicans or Democrats across the aisle, with many condemning his dangerous rhetoric.
“This is an exceptionally bad idea,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said on Twitter. “Use massive economic sanctions; BOYCOTT Russian oil & gas; and provide military aid so the Ukrainians can defend themselves. But we should not be calling for the assassination of heads of state.”
Reps. Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor-Greene also called on Graham to tone down his rhetoric, and Democrat Rep. Ilham Omar, tweeted: “Seriously, wtf?” in response to Graham’s call to assassinate Putin.
“I really wish our members of Congress would cool it and regulate their remarks as the administration works to avoid WWlll,” Omar added. “As the world pays attention to how the US and its leaders are responding, Lindsey’s remarks and remarks made by some House members aren’t helpful.”