Russia has put United States Senator Lindsey Graham on a wanted list, according to Russian media reports citing the interior ministry’s database.
Ukraine’s presidential office on Friday released an edited video of a meeting between Graham and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy which first showed the senator saying, “The Russians are dying”, and then that US support was the “best money we’ve ever spent”.
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After Russia criticised the comments, Ukraine released a full video of the interaction, showing that the two remarks were not linked.
On Sunday, Russia’s Investigative Committee said it was opening a criminal investigation into Graham’s comments, without specifying what crime he was accused of.
Russia has previously sanctioned dozens of US officials and politicians but has rarely sought the arrest of senior officeholders.
Graham disputed Russia’s criticism of his support for Ukraine by saying he had praised the spirit of Ukrainians in resisting Russia’s invasion with US assistance.
He struck a more defiant tone on Twitter, writing that he would wear the “arrest warrant” as a “badge of honor”.
“To know that my commitment to Ukraine has drawn the ire of [President Vladimir] Putin’s regime brings me immense joy,” Graham posted. He also challenged Russian authorities to pursue their case at the International Criminal Court, which has previously issued an arrest warrant for Putin.
“Come and make your best case,” he quipped. “See you in The Hague!”
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
Russian Security Council Deputy Chairman Dmitry Medvedev called the 67-year-old Republican an “old fool”.
“The old fool Senator Lindsey Graham said that the United States has never spent money so successfully as on the murder of Russians,” Medvedev said. “He shouldn’t have done that.”
In an emailed statement to the Reuters news agency, Graham responded to Medvedev’s comments and said, “As usual, the Russian propaganda machine is hard at work.”
He added: “Mr. Medvedev, if you want Russians to stop dying in Ukraine, withdraw. Stop the invasion. Stop the war crimes. The truth is that you and Putin could care less about Russian soldiers.”
During his visit to Kyiv on Friday, Graham told Zelenskyy that Ukraine’s resistance reminded him of “our better selves in America. There was a time in America that we were this way, fighting to the last person, we were going to be free or die.”
“Now you are free,” Zelenskyy responded, to which Graham replied: “And the Russians are dying.”
“Yes, but they came to our territory. We are not fighting on their territory,” Zelenskyy said.
The US has given Ukraine military assistance valued at a total of $38bn since the war began in February 2022.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov suggested that Graham’s praise of US financial backing was linked to his comments that Russians were dying.
“It is difficult to imagine a greater shame for a country than having such senators,” Peskov said.