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Sen. Graham urges Russians to target Putin: "Take this guy out"

CBS News 3/4/2022 Li Cohen
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Senator Lindsey Graham on Thursday called for someone in Russia to "take out" President Vladimir Putin, asking on Twitter, "Is there a Brutus in Russia?" Graham's comments come as Europe's largest nuclear power plant was attacked Friday and taken over by Russian forces that invaded Ukraine

"The only way this ends is for somebody in Russia to take this guy out," Graham said. "You would be doing your country — and the world — a great service." 

Graham went on to say that "the only people who can fix this are the Russian people." 

"Unless you want to live in darkness for the rest of your life, be isolated from the rest of the world in abject poverty, and live in darkness you need to step up to the plate," he wrote. 

Anatoly Antonova, the Russian ambassador to the U.S., said that Graham's comments are "outrageous," and that it perpetuates a "degree of Russophobia...[that's] off the charts." 

"I find the statement of American politician to be unacceptable and outrageous," Antonova said. "It is impossible to believe that a senator of a country that promotes its moral values as a 'guiding star' for all mankind could afford to call for terrorism as a way to achieve Washington's goals in the international arena." 

The Russian Embassy in the U.S. said that Graham's comments mark a time that's "getting scary for the fate of the United States" and demanded "decisive condemnation" on the senator's "criminal statements."

Graham and several other congressional members introduced a resolution this week to formally condemn Putin and his government and military for "committing flagrant acts of aggression and other atrocities rising to the level of crimes against humanity and war crimes." 

Senators from both sides of the aisle co-sponsored the resolution, including Cory Booker, Marco Rubio, Amy Klobuchar, and Dianne Feinstein.

"One reason history repeats itself is that we fail to learn from the mistakes of the past," Graham said in a statement about the resolution. "I can only imagine what would have changed if in the 1930s the world had spoken forcefully to condemn Hitler for his atrocities within Germany and surrounding areas. We have a chance to chart a new path with this resolution."

Graham has remained persistently critical of Putin, telling "CBS Mornings" on Thursday that the Russian leader needs to be held accountable. 

"There is no rule of law in Russia to hold Putin accountable, so this international tribunal is the right way to go," he said. "...I want every military commander and every pilot to know in Russia that if you carry out these atrocities against the Ukrainian people, you do so at your own peril. You're going to wind up in the dark."

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Since the invasion began just over a week ago, hundreds of people have been killed. Ukrainian officials say the toll is now at over 2,000. The United Nations has confirmed at least 249, but has said the true number is likely "considerably higher." 

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