Republican Senator Lindsey Graham (SC) has returned to making provocative comments about Vladimir Putin, saying the war in Ukraine will not end until the Russian leader is killed.
Brushing aside concerns about escalation, Graham told Fox News that there is “no off-ramp” in the conflict and that America must continue to give Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky everything he asks.
Republican makes huge threat
The famously hawkish senator dismissed calls for a peaceful settlement, warning that if Russia is not defeated, China will be emboldened to invade Taiwan and “the world will unravel.”
But Graham also gave a very specific picture of victory, saying Ukraine cannot win unless Putin is “taken out.”
“Somebody’s gonna win, and somebody’s gonna lose,” he said. “How does this war end? When Russia breaks, and they take Putin out. Anything short of that, the war’s going to continue.”
Graham said that he supports giving Ukraine “whatever they need as long as they need it,” and that President Biden is not doing enough to help the Ukrainians.
Graham’s candor makes for a contrast with the Biden White House, which has avoided clearly defining its goals in Ukraine.
While they insist that they have no desire for regime change in Russia, the administration’s muddled messaging has led to concerns of mission creep and escalation leading to nuclear war.
Biden’s rhetoric has sometimes set off alarm bells, as when he said that “nuclear Armageddon” is a possibility, or when he declared that Putin “cannot remain in power” before walking back the inflammatory remark.
Graham initially faced bi-partisan backlash months ago for making similar comments about Putin, who he compared to Hitler.
“As long as it takes”
The World War II analogies continued Wednesday when Zelensky was likened to British statesman Winston Churchill by media outlets and rapt politicians as he visited Washington to ask for America’s continued support in a speech to Congress.
Zelensky’s request came as emboldened “America First” Republicans are calling to cut off aid to Ukraine, which is set to receive another $45 billion in a massive “omnibus” spending package that is expected to land on President Biden’s desk before Christmas.
Biden has also announced another $2 billion that includes new advanced weapons like the Patriot surface-to-air missile system. Despite the appearance of escalation, the administration says they are “not seeking to engage in direct war with Russia.”
Biden has declined to advocate a diplomatic solution to end the conflict, telling Zelensky Wednesday that America will support Ukraine for “as long as it takes,” although Biden did not explain what victory would look like.