Russia has issued an arrest warrant for US Senator Lindsey Graham, after an edited video appeared to show him celebrating Russian troops’ deaths.
The footage, which spliced together two separate moments, was posted by President Volodymyr Zelensky’s office after the pair met in Kyiv on Friday.
In it Senator Graham called aid to Kyiv as “the best money we’ve ever spent”, noting Russian troops were “dying”.
The senior Republican said he would wear the warrant as a “Badge of Honor”.
“To know that my commitment to Ukraine has drawn the ire of Putin’s regime brings me immense joy,” Senator Graham wrote in a Twitter post on Monday. “I will continue to stand with and for Ukraine’s freedom until every Russian soldier is expelled from Ukrainian territory.”
“Finally, here’s an offer to my Russian ‘friends’ who want to arrest and try me for calling out the Putin regime as being war criminals: I will submit to jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court if you do,” he added.
After Moscow criticised Senator Graham’s comments last week – with Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov telling reporters “it’s hard to imagine a greater shame for the country than having such senators” – Ukraine uploaded the full, unedited clip to social media on Sunday.
The footage showed that Senator Graham made the comments during two separate parts of the meeting.
But Russia’s foreign ministry accused Kyiv of trying to shield Senator Graham from criticism, and challenged him to publicly state if his words had been taken out of context.
Russia’s interior ministry – which put Senator Graham on the wanted list – did not say what crimes he had committed.
But last week Moscow’s Investigative Committee – a federal law enforcement agency equivalent to the US FBI – said it had initiated an inquiry into “the American senator’s rhetoric regarding the killing of Russians”.
Senator Graham is considered one of the Republican Party’s most hawkish members on foreign policy issues. The South Carolina lawmaker has been a keen supporter of aid to Ukraine and has previously accused Moscow of committing “crimes against humanity” during the conflict.
Last year he sparked anger in Moscow after calling for the assassination of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Writing on Twitter, he claimed that the only way Russia’s invasion of Ukraine ends is “for somebody in Russia to take this guy out”.
But the 67-year-old is also a close ally of former US President Donald Trump, whose own rhetoric on aid to Ukraine has been unclear.
The frontrunner for the Republican nomination for president in 2024, Mr Trump has consistently claimed he will end the war in 24 hours if re-elected, but has refused to be drawn on whether he wants Ukraine to prevail.