WASHINGTON, D.C. (WCBD) – Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) on Saturday was among a group of bipartisan lawmakers that held a video call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelinsky, who has been leading the wartime effort from a bunker in the capitol city of Kyiv as his country remains besieged by Russian militants.
In a video recap of the call posted to his Twitter, Graham demanded more action from the United States and NATO, saying “President Zelinsky and the Ukrainian people are just awesome; they’re willing to fight to the death if they have to,” but they need our help.
Zelinksy has pleaded for a NATO-imposed no-fly zone over Ukrainian air space as Russia blindly fires missiles, peppering massive nuclear facilities, destroying cities both urban and rural, and reducing to rubble everything from apartment complexes to governmental headquarters, unfazed by the civilian casualties.
But the United States has made clear American troops will not enter the fight in Ukraine — be it on the ground, or in the air — for fear of directly engaging with Russian troops, which some say would be the start of World War III.
Fine, Zelinsky said, if you won’t send your troops, send your planes and drones for Ukrainian pilots. Graham suggested the United States may be “part of the problem, not the solution,” when it comes to our reluctance to provide aircraft for the Ukrainian military, a hesitancy Graham said we need to overcome.
Graham also said that Zelinsky suggested harsher sanctions on the Russian economy. He called for a full sanction of the Russian oil and gas sector, as well as cutting off Visa and MasterCard privileges to the Russian people.
“Even though Putin is our enemy,” Graham said, “the Russian people need to feel this for our response to be effective.”
Graham’s strategy of sowing discontent among the Russian population has escalated recently. He first suggested targeting Russian oligarchs, which leaders around the world have begun doing. In the past few days, Graham has openly advocated for a coup d’état in Russia, going so far as to claim that the only way Russia will have a place in the civilized world is for someone to assassinate Putin.
Graham spoke directly to the Russian people in his video, telling them to “rise up and stop this madness by any means possible.”
Finally, Graham said that the world needs to acknowledge the barbaric brutality of Putin’s assault.
Graham said Zelinksy provided “numerous examples of war crimes,” including mayors being captured, imprisoned, and murdered and “wholesale…, random, indiscriminate” attacks on civilian targets.
He said that labeling Putin a war criminal would, in Zelinsky’s estimation, “help tremendously.” Graham pledged to “do everything [he] can to be the voice of the Ukrainian people on multiple fronts, particularly in the area of war crimes.”