In an unexpected development, Russia's Interior Ministry has issued an arrest warrant for U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).
The move followed Graham's statements praising U.S. military aid to Ukraine, which he described as "the best money we've ever spent," as reported by The Hill.
The backlash from the Russian government came after Graham was filmed meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Friday. During the conversation, Graham acknowledged the toll the conflict took on the Russian military, remarking that "Russians are dying."
In another part of the conversation, he lauded the American financial aid to Ukraine. The recording of this conversation was later edited and shared on Zelenskyy's social media accounts.
Responding to the news of the arrest warrant, Graham expressed it was a source of "immense joy" for him that Russian President Vladimir Putin's administration recognized his support for Ukraine. He went further, stating he would consider the arrest warrant issued by the Russian government as a "badge of honor."
Graham then addressed his "Russian 'friends' who want to arrest and try me for calling out the Putin regime" and proposed an arrangement.
He said he would submit to the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, but only if the Russians agreed to do the same. "Come and make your best case. See you in The Hague!" Graham confidently stated.
The Russian Investigative Committee, meanwhile, escalated the issue and opened a criminal case against Graham.
Their case is built on the claim that the senator "declared the financial involvement of the United States is causing the death of Russian citizens."
Voices from the Kremlin were quick to condemn Graham's comments. Dmitry Peskov, a Kremlin spokesperson, called the senator's remarks a "shame" and even said, "It's difficult to imagine a greater shame for a country than having such senators."
Dmitry Medvedev, the deputy chairman of Russia's Security Council, also criticized Graham, stating he "shouldn't have done that." Medvedev further criticized the 67-year-old lawmaker by calling him an "old fool."
Undeterred by the criticism, Graham dismissed the comments from Russian officials, referring to them as "propaganda." He told Reuters that the Russian propaganda machine is tirelessly working as usual.
Graham also directly addressed Medvedev, advising him that if he wished for the death of Russians in Ukraine to stop, the solution would be for Russia to cease its invasive actions. "Stop the invasion. Stop the war crimes," Graham advised.
In his concluding remarks, Graham expressed doubt about Medvedev's and Putin's concern for the welfare of Russian soldiers.
"The truth is that you and Putin couldn't care less about Russian soldiers," he said, firmly in his stance despite the Russian backlash.
Graham, a prominent Senate figure on foreign policy matters, has been a vocal advocate for robust U.S. backing of Ukraine. The senator from South Carolina has fervently supported aid to Ukraine and has denounced Moscow for perpetrating "crimes against humanity" amidst the conflict, BBC reported.
Last year, he incited ire in Moscow after suggesting the assassination of Russian President Vladimir Putin. In a tweet, he asserted that the only conclusion to Russia's invasion of Ukraine would be "if someone within Russia eliminates this individual."