Jan. 26—Sen. Lindsey Graham in assertive remarks Tuesday called for immediate sanctions on Russian President Vladimir Putin as well as the delivery of more and more-sophisticated weaponry to Ukraine, as Moscow masses more than 100,000 troops and materiel along its border.
“Don’t wait for the invasion. They’re destroying the Ukrainian economy; they’re throwing Europe into chaos,” Graham said at a press conference at the Statehouse in Columbia. “Sanction him now for the provocation. That’s my approach.”
The South Carolina Republican also supports sending 8,500 troops to bolster allies in the region.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin recently placed thousands of U.S. troops on heightened alert, for potential deployment to Eastern Europe to assist with a NATO response. Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby on Monday said the U.S. “obviously” did not “want to see another incursion in Ukraine. We are using lots of levers to try to communicate why that would be a bad thing for Russia to do.”
The similar signal Graham wants to send, he explained Tuesday, is: “We’re not going to back off,” and resolve for NATO is ironclad.
A plane carrying hundreds of Javelin anti-tank missiles and other tech landed in Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, earlier this week, according to the U.S. Embassy there. It was the third dispatch of assistance authorized by President Joe Biden, the embassy noted.
“Our delivery of defensive security assistance to Ukraine today will bolster Ukraine’s defenses in the face of Russian aggression,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken wrote on Twitter, attaching a photo of the plane and armaments.
A Russian invasion and seizure of Ukraine, Graham suggested, would set in motion “the most destabilizing period since the 1930s” and could spell doom for Taiwan, a target of China. Biden has said such Russian belligerence would be world-changing.
Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, a move lambasted by the West. U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson — another South Carolina Republican, who late last year traveled to Ukraine — described the annexation as illegal and bloody.
After returning from his trip, Wilson warned of a “horrific loss of life” should “a Putin invasion” occur. Graham’s prediction this week was more hawkish: “The more dead Russians — if he invades — the more likely this thing will end sooner, rather than later.”