Graham: ‘It’s Not About Humiliating Putin; It’s About Calling Him Out for the War Criminal He Is’

( – French President Emmanuel Macron’s warning this week against humiliating Russia over its invasion of Ukraine brought a sharp response Tuesday from Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), an outspoken congressional critic President Vladimir Putin.

“Bull,” Graham told reporters at the U.S. Capitol. “It’s not about humiliating Putin. It’s about calling him out for the war criminal he is.”

Graham raised Macron’s remark as he addressing a press conference with Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) about their resolution calling on the secretary of state to designate Russia a state sponsor of terrorism.

Speaking in Strasbourg after addressing the European Parliament, Macron said even as Europe was now supporting Ukraine, there would come a time when Kyiv and Moscow negotiate an end to the conflict.

“We will have a peace to build tomorrow, let us never forget that,” he said. “We will have to do this with Ukraine and Russia around the table.”


“The end of the discussion and the negotiation will be set by Ukraine and Russia,” Macron said. “But it will not be done in denial, nor in exclusion of each other, nor even in humiliation.”

Graham said he likes Macron “a lot,” but found the reported comments “disturbing.”

“That way of thinking needs to end,” he said. “If you’re embarrassed by saying that Putin needs to go, then something’s wrong with you.”

“He needs to go – that’s up to the Russian people,” Graham continued.

“We’re not going to invade Russia, we’re not going to put ground troops on – in Ukraine. But we’re going to support Ukrainian victory. And victory is expelling the Russians, trying to end the slaughter.”

Macron, who has sought to mediate between Russia and Ukraine this spring – with little evident progress – has expressed discomfort before over strong language coming from the U.S. government, including from President Biden himself.

Biden last month expressed his view that Putin was committing “genocide.

In March, he called Putin “a war criminal,” “a murderous dictator,” and “a butcher.” (He also said, during a speech in Warsaw, that Putin “cannot remain in power,” although the White House and U.S. diplomats hastened to say he was not promoting regime change.)

When asked about such language – while campaigning ahead of his April 24 re-election victory – Macron cautioned against verbal “escalation,” questioning its helpfulness in reaching the goal of ending the war.

In his comments in Strasbourg this week about not humiliating Russia, the French president alluded to the victorious allies’ punitive treatment of Germany after World War I, which some historians say helped to facilitate the Nazis’ rise to power, leading ultimately to World War II.

Defense Secretary Gen. Lloyd Austin raised eyebrows when after a visit to Kyiv late last month he replied to a reporter’s question about U.S. “goals for success” in Ukraine by saying, “We want to see Russia weakened to the degree that it can’t do the kinds of things that it has done in invading Ukraine.”


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