Lindsey Graham Struggles to Find Support for Putin Assassination Idea – Republican Senator Lindsey Graham faced backlash last week for comments made on Twitter, in which he appeared to suggest that Russian President Vladimir Putin should be assassinated.
On March 3, Graham asked, “Is there a Brutus in Russia? Is there a more successful Colonel Stauffenberg in the Russian military?”
“You would be doing your country – and the world – a great service,” he added.
Graham faced almost immediate backlash for the comments from Republicans and Democrats alike. While the South Carolina senator clarified in a follow-up Tweet that the U.S. military should not be the ones to take the life of the. Russian president, and that “the only people who can fix this are the Russian people,” his comments appear to have spooked legislators in his party and even the White house.
Kill Putin? Republicans Not On Board
Graham’s call has been echoed by few among his party, though was supported by Fox News anchor Sean Hannity, who suggested last week that one way to solve the Ukraine crisis was to “cut the head of the snake off, and you kill the snake…and right now, the snake is Vladimir Putin.”
Hannity also floated the idea of NATO forces bombing Russia’s convoys on the edges of Ukraine.
Fellow Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, however, appeared to reject the idea – though stopped short of criticizing his colleague for the comments. CNN’s Jake Tapper asked Rubio on “State of the Union” last week if he agreed with Graham’s idea.
Rubio insisted that assassinating Putin is “not the official policy” of the United States and that “no one’s talking about the U.S. doing it.”
He also added, however, that Graham would have to “answer for what he meant by that.”
Kill Putin? White House Rejects Idea
On Friday, the White House scrambled to end talk of the assassination of the Russian president, with Press secretary Jen Psaki insisting it is “not the position of the United States government and certainly not a statement you’d hear come from the mouths of anybody working in this administration.”
On Graham’s recent suggestion that a diplomatic solution with Russia will never be possible for as long as Putin is in power, Psaki said that Putin “has the ability to deescalate.”
“We have left the door open for months now to be engaged through deescalation” she added, before repeating that the United States government is “not advocating for killing the leader of a foreign country or regime change.”
UK Calls for Putin to Be Tried for War Crimes
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson also rejected calls for the assassination of Putin. When asked for comment, Johnson’s spokesman told the press that the British government opposes calls for assassination but stands with the Ukrainian people in “demanding the immediate end to the. Russian invasion.”
“We’ve said before that Putin must be held to account in front of an international court for the horrific act he’s committed.”
Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and report on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.