So far, Graham said he had had some positive conversations with several Democratic senators about the decision and indicated he had launched a “phone attack” Wednesday calling on allies, including the British ambassador, and also asking them to support the complaint.
Graham joined a news conference unveiling the bill with Representative Victoria Spartz, an Indiana Republican, who is Ukrainian-American, on Wednesday at the US Capitol.
“The entire international community needs to condemn this,” Spartz said. “This is criminal, this is pure murder.”
Graham said he expects Russia’s strategy to be “scorched” as Putin becomes “more desperate” and “as you see it happening, we need to engage international law organizations in support of this complaint.”
“The world has let him slip away for too much for too long,” Graham added of Putin. “The Russian people have blindly robbed, they have murdered Russian citizens to maintain an iron grip on the country.”
Graham said there was no way to end this conflict without severe economic sanctions and the arming of NATO allies Ukraine and Eastern Europe.
“For the Russian people, I doubt you can hear my words, but our fight is not with you, you are a victim of Putin like everyone else, perhaps more than anyone else, and I just wanted to tell you that we understand the difference between the Russian people and Putin, but we will need your help. To bring justice to the table, you will have to suffer,” Graham said.
Graham said stopping Putin is critical to sending a strong message to other leaders who may wish to threaten the world’s rule-based order and pose other potential threats to global security.
“If Ukraine falls into the hands of Putin, it will lead to dire consequences for us as a nation,” he said. “China will get a signal that they can take over Taiwan. The Iranians will think we have no will to stop their nuclear ambitions. And vice versa. If the Chinese see the world rally around Ukraine and the rule of law enforced by Putin’s war crimes it probably won’t go to Taiwan.”
He continued, “History repeats itself, for good and for bad. We tend to forget the lessons of the past. Appeasement of evil doesn’t do well, and we’ve done that for a very long time when it comes to Putin.”
CNN’s Jeff Zelini contributed to this report.
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