Senior US senator Lindsey Graham called in a televised interview Thursday evening for “somebody in Russia” to assassinate President Vladimir Putin after Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
“How does this end? Somebody in Russia has to step up to the plate… and take this guy out,” the senator told conservative Fox News TV host Sean Hannity.
He repeated the call later in a series of tweets, saying “the only people who can fix this are the Russian people.”
“Is there a Brutus in Russia?” asked the senator, referring to one of Roman ruler Julius Caesar’s assassins.
The former presidential candidate also wondered if “a more successful Colonel Stauffenberg” existed in the Russian military, alluding to the German officer whose bomb failed to kill Adolf Hitler in 1944.
“You would be doing your country — and the world — a great service,” he added.
The senator, who has served in Congress for over twenty years and has at times been a close ally to former President Donald Trump, had earlier in the day introduced a resolution condemning the Russian president and his military commanders for committing “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity.”
Ukraine says at least 350 civilians have been killed since Putin launched the invasion last week and more than 1.2 million have fled the country.
Moscow says it does not target civilians, despite evidence from the ground showing that Russian forces bombing civilian areas in cities as they seek to push deeper into Ukraine.
The Russian ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov blasted Graham’s statements as “unacceptable and outrageous.”
He called out what he said was “off the scale” hatred towards Russia in the United States and demanded “official explanations and a strong condemnation of the criminal statements.”
“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 told reporters, according to a post on the embassy’s Facebook page.