Sen. Graham: Decision on Sending F-16s to Ukraine 'Will Be Imminent'

( – Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is among the 30 U.S. senators and dozens of House lawmakers who attended the Munich Security Conference this past weekend, where Russia’s war in Ukraine was among the top security concerns addressed by participants.

Graham told ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday there was “virtually unanimous belief” among attendees that the United States “should be training Ukrainian pilots on the F-16 today so they can get the jets as soon as possible.”

“The British are training Ukrainian pilots,” Graham said:

“I believe a decision will be imminent here when we get back to Washington that the administration will start training Ukrainian pilots on the F-16. They need the weapons system.

“And let me just stress this — how can you call this war by Russia a crime against humanity, and that’s what the vice president did in Munich — now, we’re talking about Germany. We’re talking about the vice president of United States declaring that Russia is involved in crimes against humanity in Germany, of all places, you know, echoes of World War II.

“How can she say that — and she is correct — and not give the victim of the crime against humanity the defensive weapons they need to stop the crime?

“So we need to do two things quickly, make Russia a state sponsor of terrorism under U.S. law, which would make it harder for China to give weapons to Russia, and we need to start training Ukrainian pilots on the F-16 now.”

Graham said he’s not worried about provoking Russian President Vladimir Zelenskyy:

“I want to beat him,” Graham said:


“And how do you beat him? You beat him by giving the Ukrainians the military capability to drive the Russians out of Ukraine. You label Putin’s Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism. You create international tribunals so we actually can try Putin and his cronies in the international court, like we did after World War II.

“Don’t worry about provoking Putin, worry about beating him. And I’ve never been more optimistic about winning this war in Ukraine than I am right now. I see solidarity across the aisle in America and across the seas.”

Host Martha Raddatz asked Graham how the Ukrainians can win the war, and whether Ukraine should retake Crimea, which Russia seized in 2014:

“Here’s how you win the war,” Graham said:

“You expel Russia from territory — in 1994, the Ukrainians gave up the third largest nuclear force on the planet. After the Soviet Union failed, there were like 1,700 nukes in Ukraine. They turned the missiles over to Russia.

“Russia, the United States and Great Britain said, in exchange for you giving up your nuclear weapons, we will guarantee your territorial integrity, your sovereignty. And the ’94 map included Crimea as being part of Ukraine.

“So, to not honor that commitment would be tricking the Ukraine, would be rewarding Putin for rewriting agreements involving nuclear weapons. To forgive and forget would be allowing Putin to commit major war crimes on an industrial scale. It would send a signal to China that we’re all talk, we’re not going to defend Taiwan.

“What’s at stake here is the rule of law, human decency, and world order. So, here’s what I believe.

“Once you call Russia being engaged in crimes against humanity, you have to have actions consistent with that statement. So I’m looking for this administration to follow up on that statement by designating Russia a state sponsor of terrorism under U.S. law. One hundred senators urged the administration to do that.

“And I’m also urging the administration to start F-16 training now for Ukrainian pilots. Don’t worry about provoking Putin, let’s make sure we beat Putin in Ukraine because he will not stop if we do not.”

Last month, President Joe Biden said “no” when a reporter asked him if the U.S. would send F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine, as Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has requested.


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