senator Lindsey Grahama Republican from South Carolina, said Sunday the goal in Ukraine’s ongoing war must be to “take out” Vladimir Putinclaiming there is “no exit” while the Russian president remains in power.
On March 3, shortly after Putin’s launch the large-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, Graham first put forward the idea of assassinating Putin during an interview with Fox news† The GOP senator put forward the idea Twitter a little later too. ‘Is there a Brutus in Russia? Is there a more successful Colonel Stauffenberg in the Russian army?’ Graham asked at the time.
The comment sparked condemnation from the White House and some prominent conservatives. Later in March, Graham again doubled down on the comments, saying at a press conference, “I hope he will be eliminated.”
“I just want him to go…I wish someone had taken” [former Nazi leader Adolf] Hitler in the 1930s, Graham added, calling Putin a “war criminal” and “not a legitimate leader.”
Speak with Fox News Sunday this weekend, Graham reaffirmed his view that removing Putin from power would be the best-case scenario. “Putin must go,” he declared.
“If you don’t understand this, that if Putin is still standing after all this, the world will become a very dark place,” the GOP senator warned. “China will get the wrong signal and we’ll have a mess on our hands in Europe for decades to come. So let’s take out Putin by helping Ukraine.”
“There is no turn-off,” Graham claimed when Fox News host Bret Baier began asking if there are alternatives to removing the Russian president from power. “No exit. So let me tell you why there is no exit… if we get the Ukrainians to give up half their land, Putin wins. If we stop prosecuting Putin as a war criminal, all the laws on the books become a joke. If we don’t get this right, China will definitely invade Taiwan.”
China claims Taiwan as part of its country. However, Taiwan has been functioning as an independent nation for decades and has a democratically elected government, unlike China’s authoritarian one-party government. Analysts have long expressed concerns that Beijing could invade the island country to regain control of the area, and those fears have increased in recent years.
“Someone will win and someone will lose. And I hope and pray and do everything in my power to make sure Ukraine wins, and Putin is in charge – a state sponsor of terrorism, that designation must be given to Russia. He deserved that nomination,” the South Carolina Republican said.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was asked about Graham’s comments in early March† At the time, Psaki told reporters “that is not the position of the United States government, and certainly not a statement you would hear coming out of someone who works in this administration.”
When asked if president Joe Biden shared the senator’s view, the press secretary condemned the idea, saying the president believes there will be a peaceful solution to the ongoing invasion if Putin takes the initiative. Biden did, however, make a comment similar to Graham’s at the end of March.
“For God’s sake, this man can’t stay in power,” Biden said when he visited Poland. The White House then tried to reverse the president’s words.
“The president’s point was that Putin should not exercise power over his neighbors or the region,” a White House spokesman said. said in a statement† “He wasn’t talking about Putin’s power in Russia, or about regime change.”
Biden later explained his comment, saying, “I was expressing the moral outrage… I just came out of being with those families. But I want to be clear that I wasn’t then, and I’m not now, to be a policy change I make no apologies for it.”
Anatoly Antonov, Russia’s ambassador to the US, described Graham’s statement in early March as “unacceptable and outrageous”. Meanwhile, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov opposed Biden’s remark made in late March, telling Reuters at the time: “It’s not for Biden to decide. Russia’s president is elected by Russians.”
Chinese state media warned after Graham’s first call for Putin’s assassination in March that such comments were “very dangerous”.
“The US and Russia are both great nuclear powers. Any miscalculation leading to war would be devastating to the world,” said the editorial of The Global Timeswrote a gossip magazine published by the Chinese Communist Party.
Fox News host Laura Ingraham criticized Graham’s idea that Putin was assassinated shortly after he made the first comment. “I don’t know why a sitting US Senator would tweet that. We love Lindsey Graham, but that’s just a stupid comment,” she said.
news week contacted the Russian embassy and the White House for comment on Graham’s comments to Fox News on Sunday.