Russia has issued an arrest warrant for Lindsey Graham after the US senator was caught on tape celebrating the deaths of Russian soldiers in the Ukraine war.
The warrant was issued by Russia after a video released by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's office highlighted comments Graham made at a meeting with the Ukrainian president last week.
The ministry followed up by issuing a warrant for his arrest as indicated Monday by its official record of wanted criminal suspects.
The Investigative Committee, Russia's top criminal investigation agency, has also moved to open a criminal inquiry against Graham, a Republican from South Carolina.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Sunday hit back at Graham's provocative remarks, saying the Republican lawmaker is a "shame" to the United States. “It is difficult to imagine a greater shame for the country than to have such senators.”
Graham made the remarks during his third visit to Ukraine since Russia launched its "special military operation" in Ukraine in February 2022.
The video, which was recently posted by the Ukrainian president’s office, appeared to show Graham applauding Russian deaths. The video clip shows Graham meeting with Zelensky and discussing US military assistance to Ukraine. At one point in the clip, Graham can be heard saying: “The Russians are dying. It’s the best money we ever spent.”
At the meeting, Graham also called on his government to increase its military aid as US President Joe Biden announced his decision to support the delivery of much sought F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine.
US senator dismisses criticism
Graham in a statement has dismissed the criticism and lashed out at what he called the “Russian propaganda machine.” The senator claimed that what he told Zelensky was that “it has been a good investment by the United States to help liberate Ukraine.”
Meanwhile, Reuters claimed that the published video was edited and there were no links between the remarks about Russians dying and US financial aid.
Responding to the Reuters article, Russia’s Foreign Ministry, however, has dismissed the “cynical attempts” to justify Graham’s “cannibalistic” statements. The ministry suggested that the outlet was conducting “crisis management” on behalf of the senator and providing “ridiculous and shameful excuses” after his “Russophobic” statements.
“Attempts to justify such statements are doomed to fail. It is already impossible to whitewash such words, even if they were uttered separately,” the ministry said, noting that this isn’t the first time Graham has made such remarks. Similar comments have also been uttered by other US and Ukrainian officials.
The ministry accused Reuters of damaging its reputation with its “cowardly excuses and ridiculous attempts to shield Lindsey Graham” and suggested that the outlet was not conducting journalism, but acting as a PR agency carrying out the orders of the “collective West.”
Graham is among more than 200 US members of Congress whom Moscow banned last year from entering Russia.
Last year, Graham called for "somebody in Russia" to kill President Vladimir Putin. He said it would be "a great service" to the country and the world.
Russian politicians have condemned Graham's remarks as 'unacceptable and outrageous'. They said he was threatening Russian soldiers and their leader.
The West has given Ukraine billions of dollars worth of weapons, such as rockets, drones, tanks, armored vehicles, and communication systems.
Russia has said that the West was using Ukraine as a proxy to fight against Russia. It warned that the conflict could become much bigger.