Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Thursday praised Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) for calling Russian President Vladimir Putin “a thug” and “a war criminal.”
“Governor @RonDeSantisFL description of Putin being a thug and a war criminal is spot on. What do you call a national leader who uses their army to kidnap children of a neighboring state? A War Criminal,” Graham tweeted.
Graham was responding to the tougher stance DeSantis took on Russia in a recent interview with British television host Piers Morgan.
Graham’s praise is notable because he is former President Trump’s closest ally in the Senate.
DeSantis told Morgan in an interview set to broadcast on Fox Nation Thursday that Putin should be “held accountable.”
“Obviously, Russia invaded [last year] — that was wrong. They invaded Crimea and took that in 2014 — That was wrong,” he said.
The South Carolina senator earlier criticized DeSantis for minimizing the Russian invasion of Ukraine as a “territorial dispute.”
“Governor DeSantis, who I respect, is basically taking the Chinese position when it comes to Russia’s invasion,” Graham told Fox News Digital last week.
“China calls this a territorial dispute. This is not a territorial dispute. This is an invasion of a sovereign democracy by [Vladimir Putin’s] Russia, barbaric in nature,” he said.
DeSantis told Morgan that his comment had “been mischaracterized.”
Many Republican lawmakers distanced themselves from the governor after he told Fox News host Tucker Carlson that “becoming entangled in a territorial dispute between Ukraine and Russia” was not in the U.S.’s “vital national interest.”
Senate Republican Whip John Thune (S.D.) told reporters “the majority opinion among Senate Republicans is that the United States has a vital national security interest there in stopping Russian aggression.”