US senator denies calling Russian deaths ‘a good investment’
US Senator Lindsey Graham has disputed Russian criticism of comments he allegedly made during a recent trip to Kiev. A video published by the Ukrainian president’s office appeared to show Graham applauding Russian deaths, but the senator has now suggested that “Russian propaganda” is to blame for the controversy.
The video, which was posted by Kiev on Sunday, shows Graham meeting with President Vladimir Zelensky and discussing US military assistance to Ukraine. At one point in the clip, Graham can be heard saying: “The Russians are dying. It’s the best money we ever spent.” The phrases are separated by an editing cut.
The quote quickly drew strong backlash from Moscow, with Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov stating that “it is difficult to imagine a greater shame for a country than having such senators.” Former President Dmitry Medvedev called the 67-year-old Republican an “old fool.”
Russia’s Interior Ministry has issued an arrest warrant for Graham, while the head of Russia’s Investigative Committee, Aleksandr Bastrykin, has also called for a criminal case to be opened over the senator’s remarks.
However, in a written statement to Reuters, Graham dismissed the criticism and lashed out at what he called the “Russian propaganda machine.” The senator explained that what he told Zelensky was that “it has been a good investment by the United States to help liberate Ukraine.”
As noted by Reuters, the original video clip, which was edited and released by the Ukrainian president’s office, contained no clear indication that the remarks about Russians dying and US money being well spent were from different parts of the meeting. A full, unedited version of Graham’s meeting with Zelensky supposedly shows that there was no direct link between the two statements, according to the outlet.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry, however, has dismissed the “cynical attempts” to justify Graham’s “cannibalistic” statements. Responding to the Reuters article, the ministry suggested that the outlet was conducting “crisis management” on behalf of the senator and providing “ridiculous and shameful excuses” after his “Russophobic” statements sparked a wave of backlash.
“Attempts to justify such statements are doomed to fail. It is already impossible to whitewash such words, even if they were uttered separately,” the ministry said in a press release, noting that this isn’t the first time Graham has made such remarks. Similar comments have also been uttered by other US and Ukrainian officials.
The ministry accused Reuters of damaging its reputation with its “cowardly excuses and ridiculous attempts to shield Lindsey Graham” and suggested that the outlet was not conducting journalism, but acting as a PR agency carrying out the orders of the “collective West.”