WASHINGTON, D.C. (WCBD) – Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) on Wednesday pushed for the transfer of war planes and air defense systems to Ukraine following Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s impassioned appeal to Congress for more assistance quelling the Russian invasion.
“What happens here in Ukraine will shape the world one way or the other,” Graham said. “A world where Putin wins is a very dark, dangerous world.”
Graham said that at this point, he supports President Joe Biden’s decision not to endorse a NATO no-fly-zone over the country, noting “we have to make decisions based on our national security interest and not just emotional decisions.”
He does, however, believe facilitating Ukrainian air dominance is in the national security interest of both the United States and of Ukraine. Graham drew a distinction between the direct US-Russia conflict that could result from a NATO-enforced no-fly-zone and providing Ukraine with the tools it needs to defend itself.
To that end, Graham said he “enthusiastically” supports sending “MiG aircraft from Poland to the Ukrainian Air Force so they can be more competitive in the skies” and sending missile defense systems that could “neutralize the Russian air advantage.”
Specifically, Graham suggested sending 28 MiG’s from Poland and S-100, S-200, and S-300 aircraft and missile interceptor systems from former Soviet Block countries.
The Russian-made planes and defense systems could be easily integrated into the Ukrainian weapons stockpile and quickly put to use since Ukrainian forces are familiar with operating them. He also said he supports increasing Ukraine’s drone capability.
Graham introduced a Senate Resolution Wednesday afternoon “urging the Biden Administration to make the transfer of the 28 MiGs in question and to send additional air defense capability that we possess in NATO, to allow the Ukrainians to better defend their skies.”
He said that there is bipartisan support for the action, and further urged the Senate “to speak with one voice, to meet the moment.”
In addition to lethal aid, Graham said he supports further economic sanctions on the Russian economy and Russian leaders. He said that the only way to bring about change in Russia is to isolate it from the world, spark discontent among the Russian population, and force regime change.
“I think the world is better off without Putin. The sooner the better, and I don’t care how we do it.”Sen. Lindsey Graham
Graham doubled down on his criticism of Putin, again likening him to Adolf Hitler and calling for him to be “taken out one way or another,” whether by the International Criminal Court or by assassination.
The one way Graham does not expect Putin to be taken out, though, is in a nuclear exchange, which Graham said would essentially be a suicide mission.
Regarding Putin’s threat of nuclear escalation, Graham called a bluff. “We’re not going to have a nuclear exchange over this,” Graham said. “I am confident that he may be a murderer, but he’s not suicidal.” Graham also said that Putin’s general staff would not allow a nuclear exchange, saying it would be mass suicide “because nobody wins a nuclear exchange.”