Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is among the loudest warhawks in Congress who has labeled Russian President Vladimir Putin and other Russian officials as "war criminals" worthy of international prosecution, expressed full-fledged support for the U.S. provision of arms and support to Ukraine, and even seemed to speak approvingly of the deaths of Russian soldiers by the Ukrainian military.
Graham's vociferously anti-Russian stance appears to have resulted in Russia issuing a warrant for the South Carolina senator's arrest, the Western Journal reported.
A defiant Graham, however, who was already banned from entering Russia due to his outspoken support for Ukraine, responded on social media that he viewed the Russian arrest warrant for him as a "badge of honor" that he was proud to have received.
ABC News reported that the arrest warrant issued on Monday by the Russian Interior Ministry was in regard to an admittedly edited video clip released by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's office of remarks made by Graham during a visit to Kyiv on Friday.
In the clip edited by Ukraine that combined different parts of Graham's remarks together, it appeared as though Graham had celebrated the fact that "the Russians are dying" in Ukraine thanks to U.S. support and that the U.S. investment in Ukraine's defense was "the best money we’ve ever spent."
Russia's Investigative Committee immediately opened a criminal inquiry into the remarks, the Interior Ministry issued its arrest warrant for Graham, and Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said of the U.S. that "it's hard to imagine a greater shame for the country than having such senators."
If Russia had thought that its arrest warrant for Sen. Graham would silence him or prompt a conciliatory response, they were sorely mistaken, as the South Carolina senator instead ramped up his rhetoric even further and flipped the developing situation right back on Russia and President Putin.
In a post to Twitter on Monday morning, Graham shared the ABC News report and tweeted, "I will wear the arrest warrant issued by Putin’s corrupt and immoral government as a Badge of Honor."
"To know that my commitment to Ukraine has drawn the ire of Putin’s regime brings me immense joy," he continued in a follow-up tweet. "I will continue to stand with and for Ukraine’s freedom until every Russian soldier is expelled from Ukrainian territory."
Graham concluded, "Finally, here’s an offer to my Russian ‘friends’ who want to arrest and try me for calling out the Putin regime as being war criminals: I will submit to jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court if you do. Come and make your best case. See you in The Hague!"
Reuters reported that Ukrainian President Zelensky's office essentially admitted that it had edited a video clip of Sen. Graham's remarks to be more provocative as a release of the full video showed that his comments about "Russians are dying" and the U.S. assistance being "the best money we've ever spent" were uttered at completely different points in his remarks.
That acknowledgment is unlikely to matter to Russia, however, as Security Council Deputy Chairman Dmitry Medvedev said in a statement that "The old fool Senator Lindsey Graham said that the United States has never spent money so successfully as on the murder of Russians," and added, "He shouldn't have done that."
In a statement to Reuters, however, Graham fired back and said, "As usual the Russia propaganda machine is hard at work," and explained in context that he had told Zelensky "that Ukraine has adopted the American mantra, 'Live Free or Die.' It has been a good investment by the United States to help liberate Ukraine from Russian war criminals."
The senator added in the statement, "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."