NEW YORK - Despite bipartisan criticism, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham is standing firm in his belief that the only way to end Russia's invasion of Ukraine is to assassinate Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom he calls a "war criminal." The South Carolina Republican told Fox News host Sean Hannity that someone in Russia needs to be a "Brutus" and kill Putin for the good of their country. (Brutus was a Roman politician who killed dictator Julius Caesar.)
"The only way this ends is for somebody in Russia to take this guy out," Graham said on the show Hannity on Thursday night. "You would be doing your country a great service and the world a great service."
The senator also criticized President Joe Biden, saying Putin sees him as "weak." But Graham said the Russian people have to put an end to the war.
"The only people that can fix this are the Russian people," Graham said. "Easy to say, hard to do, but I'm begging you in Russia unless you want to live in darkness for the rest of your life, be isolated from the world, be in abject poverty, you need to step up to the plate and take this guy out."
Russia's ambassador to the U.S. Anatoly Antonov called Graham's comments "criminal" and "outrageous and unacceptable."
And the White House pushed back as well.
"That is not the position of the United States government and certainly not a statement you would hear coming from the mouth of anyone working in the administration," White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said at a briefing for reporters on Friday.
Earlier in the week, Graham praised the people of Ukraine for their bravery and resolve amid the Russian invasion.
"A good example of the price of freedom is Ukraine. These are the freedom fighters of the 21st century," Graham told WHNS/FoxCarolina. "They have the same attitude that our forefathers had when it came to the American Revolution."
He also said Putin's incursion into Ukraine is an ongoing war crime.
"You're watching one of the biggest war crimes in the history of the world unfold on your screen, the largest war crime, for sure, in the 21st century. The indiscriminate bombing of Ukrainian cities by Putin's military is a war crime," Graham said. "What I fear the most is a scorched-earth policy is about to develop. Putin has been held at bay but I think his objective remains the same: the destruction of the sovereignty of the Ukraine, the destruction of the government that exists today to be replaced by a puppet government."
Despite pushback from Democrats and fellow Republicans in Congress, Graham echoed his remarks on Twitter and on the show Fox & Friends. He told the show's hosts he wants to see Putin, top Russian military officials, and even the individual soldiers carrying out their orders tried for war crimes.