US Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) is undeterred by the backlash over his suggestion earlier this month that someone should assassinate Russian President Vladimir Putin. In fact, he’s ramping up his violent political rhetoric amid the Ukraine crisis.
“I hope he will be taken out, one way or the other,” Graham told reporters on Wednesday in Washington. “I don’t care how they take him out. I don’t care if we send him to The Hague and try him. I just want him to go.”
Graham confirmed that he sees murdering Putin as a desirable option for removing the Russian president, just as he implied in a March 3 Twitter post in which he asked, “Is there a Brutus in Russia? Is there a more successful Colonel Stauffenberg in the Russian military?”
At the time, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov denounced the “hysterical stirring-up” of anti-Russian sentiment in the US, calling it a “Russophobic meltdown” of sorts.
READ MORE: Kremlin reacts to US senator’s call to assassinate Putin
The notoriously hawkish senator confirmed on Wednesday that he was in fact calling for Putin to be assassinated.
“It’s time for him to go,” Graham said of Putin. “He’s a war criminal. I wish somebody had taken Hitler out in the ’30s. So yes, Vladimir Putin is not a legitimate leader. He is a war criminal.”
Russian people are “going to have zero future” if they continue to follow Putin, Graham argued, adding that if the US continues efforts to help Ukraine defend itself while imposing sanctions to “strangle the Russian economy,” forces within Russia will rise up to end the crisis. “I think the world is better off without Putin – the sooner the better, and I don’t care how we do it.”
Graham’s comments came amid escalating anti-Putin rhetoric in Washington. President Joe Biden called Putin a “war criminal” for the first time on Wednesday, the day after the Senate backed a resolution labeling the Russian president that way.
Moscow sent troops into Ukraine on February 24, claiming that Russia must demilitarize and “denazify” the government in Kiev after it refused to peacefully resolve the Donbass conflict and sought nuclear weapons and NATO membership. Ukraine has blasted the move as an “unprovoked” attack and insisted it had no intention of reclaiming the Donbass region by force.
Moscow has repeatedly denied accusations of indiscriminate attacks on Ukrainian cities, saying Russian forces are only striking military targets. The Kremlin rebuked Biden for calling Putin a war criminal, saying that such comments from the American head of state are “unacceptable and unforgivable.”
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