Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Sunday pushed to label Russia a state sponsor of terrorism and called for the expansion of the Western security alliance NATO to deter the Kremlin from future invasions.
Graham told “Fox News Sunday” guest host Bret Baier the U.S. was fighting “for the future of Europe” against Russia amid the war in Ukraine.
“NATO needs to get bigger, not smaller,” he said. “If Finland and Sweden join NATO and Europe breaks away from dependence on Russian oil and gas, and [Russian President Vladimir] Putin is declared a war criminal, that would be the best outcome for the world writ large.”
Graham has previously espoused controversial rhetoric against Russia and Putin. In March, he called for the assassination of Putin in a tweet.
Graham on Sunday again said Putin “must go” but called for for the Russian leader to instead face prosecution for war crimes.
“If Putin is still standing after all this, the world will be a very dark place,” Graham said. “China’s going to get the wrong signal, and we’ll have a mess in Europe for decades to come. … If we back off prosecuting Putin as a war criminal, all the laws on the books become a joke.”
Russia, which is nearing its third month of the Ukraine invasion, has been accused of multiple war crimes for killings in Bucha and bombings in the city of Mariupol.
Graham said the U.S. should do “everything in its power” besides sending troops into Ukraine to deter Russia from invading other countries but raised fears that Putin was “getting desperate” and could launch a nuclear attack against Ukraine.
“If he explodes a nuclear weapon inside of Ukraine to break our will, to me that will be an attack on NATO,” said Graham. “The radiation will go all over Europe.”