Graham offers Senate measure urging Putin to be investigated for war crimes

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) speaks during a press conference following the U.S. Senate approval of the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, February 10, 2022.
Anna Rose Layden

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is working a resolution to throw Senate support behind having an international court investigate Russian President Vladimir Putin for potential war crimes.

“What I’m doing today … is introducing a resolution supporting the complaint filed by the Ukrainian government,” Graham said. “This is a good example of where the International Criminal Court should exercise jurisdiction … I want the Senate to vote and speak with one voice in support of this complaint.”

Graham unveiled a non-binding, draft resolution at a press conference with U.S. Rep. Victoria Spartz (R-Ind.), who was born in Ukraine. Spartz grew emotional as she recounted messages she is receiving from friends and family in Ukraine.

“This is criminal. This is pure killing of individuals,” Spartz said. “This is just brutal.”

Graham said that he has discussed the resolution with a handful of Democrats and that they seem interested.

“I’m going to introduce this thing pretty soon and I’m going to try to build consensus,” he said.

The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court announced late last month that it was opening an investigation into the situation in Ukraine. Graham stressed that the resolution, which is still being tweaked, doesn’t pre-judge the outcome an investigation but instead would throw the Senate’s support behind having a probe.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) investigates and, where warranted, tries individuals charged with the gravest crimes of concern to the international community: genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and the crime of aggression.

The draft resolution would throw Senate condemnation behind “the ongoing violence, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and systematic human rights abuses continually being carried out by the Russian Armed Forces and their proxies,” urges nations to push for a war crimes investigation and supports an investigation into Putin for war crimes.

The resolution comes as lawmakers are working on a package that would provide billions in aid for Ukraine.

The administration requested $6.4 billion, though senators have floated that it could be closer to $10 billion.

Lawmakers are looking at including it in a massive government funding bill that they need to pass by March 11 in order to avoid a government shutdown.

“The Senate must keep working on a bipartisan basis to pass a robust aid package in the upcoming omnibus, so we can send an unmistakable signal to Ukraine that we stand with them and that we stand against Putin. The omnibus needs to get done next week, so I’m glad that we seem to be having bipartisan support to get that done,” Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said.

Tags Charles Schumer Lindsey Graham Russia Ukraine Vladimir Putin War crimes

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