MOSCOW: Russia today said US senator Lindsey Graham should say publicly if he believes his words were taken out of context by a Ukrainian state video edit of his comments about the war that provoked widespread condemnation in Moscow.
In an edited video released by the Ukrainian president’s office of Graham’s meeting with Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv on Friday, Graham was shown saying “the Russians are dying” and then saying US support was the “best money we’ve ever spent”.
After Russia criticised the remarks, Ukraine released a full video of the meeting on Sunday which showed the two remarks were not directly linked.
Russia’s foreign ministry said Western media had sought to shield the senator from criticism and said that Graham should publicly state if he feels his words were taken out of context by the initial Ukrainian video edit.
“If US senator Lindsey Graham considers his words were taken out of context by the Ukrainian regime and he doesn’t actually think in the way presented then he can make a statement on video with his phone,” foreign ministry spokesman Maria Zakharova said in a video posted on Telegram.
“Only then will we know: does he think the way that was said or was it a performance by the Kyiv regime?”
Graham’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The initial video of Graham’s remarks triggered criticism from across Moscow, including from the Kremlin, Putin’s powerful Security Council and from the foreign ministry.
Graham said he had simply praised the spirit of Ukrainians in resisting a Russian invasion with assistance provided by Washington.
Graham said he had mentioned to Zelensky “that Ukraine has adopted the American mantra, ‘Live Free or Die.’ It has been a good investment by the US to help liberate Ukraine from Russian war criminals.”
Russia’s interior ministry has put Graham on a wanted list after the investigative committee said it was opening a criminal probe into his comments. It did not specify what crime he was suspected of.
In response, Graham said: “I will wear the arrest warrant issued by Putin’s corrupt and immoral government as a badge of honour.
“… I will continue to stand with and for Ukraine’s freedom until every Russian soldier is expelled from Ukrainian territory.”
A South Carolina Republican known for his hawkish foreign policy views, Graham has been an outspoken champion of increased military support for Ukraine in its battle against Russia.