Russia issued an arrest warrant for South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham (R), an apparent act of retaliation against one of the most vocal Russia hawks in Washington.
The shocking development comes after a meeting between Graham and Ukraine's Volodymyr Zelensky in which Graham said "the Russians are dying" with apparent gratification. He also called billions in U.S. aid to Ukraine “the best money we’ve ever spent.”
The Kremlin shot back by saying “it’s hard to imagine a greater shame for the country than having such senators.”
Russia's Investigative Committee opened an investigation into Graham over "the American senator's rhetoric regarding the killing of Russians."
Graham, who has also called for Vladimir Putin to be assassinated, said he would wear the warrant like a badge of pride.
“To know that my commitment to Ukraine has drawn the ire of Putin’s regime brings me immense joy,” Graham said. “I will continue to stand with and for Ukraine’s freedom until every Russian soldier is expelled from Ukrainian territory.”
I will wear the arrest warrant issued by Putin’s corrupt and immoral government as a Badge of Honor. 🏅 https://t.co/0L2I5PfuoM
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) May 29, 2023
The West issued an arrest warrant for Putin in March roughly a year after Russia's invasion of Ukraine sparked international condemnation.
It's unclear how Putin could be brought to justice without toppling his regime in Moscow, and the Biden administration has insisted such a drastic outcome is not the goal of its intervention in Ukraine.
Graham hasn't been as circumspect. Shortly after the war began, he caused an outcry when he urged the Russian people to "take this guy [Putin] out."
His new comments mocking Russia's war dead also undermine Biden's claim that the U.S. is not a party to the conflict.
The war has highlighted differences between Republican hawks like Graham and "America First" Republicans, including former President Trump, who have called for billions in foreign aid to Ukraine to be curbed.
Trump sparked blowback recently when he declined to call Putin a war criminal, saying such language would interfere with diplomacy. But Graham is doubling down.
“Here’s an offer to my Russian ‘friends’ who want to arrest and try me for calling out the Putin regime as being war criminals: I will submit to jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court if you do,” Graham said Monday. “Come and make your best case. See you in The Hague!"