The Biden administration is not advocating for regime change in Russia, the White House said Friday, after a U.S. senator called for Russians to assassinate President Vladimir Putin.
"That is not the position of the U.S. government and certainly not a statement you'll hear from — coming from the mouth of — anybody working for the administration," White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters in response to a question from Voice of America.
U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, suggested in a televised interview Thursday evening that "somebody in Russia" should assassinate Putin. He repeated his statement Friday in another televised appearance on Fox News Channel.
"How does this end? Somebody in Russia has to step up to the plate … and take this guy out," Graham told Fox News host Sean Hannity.
Following the interview, Graham posted on Twitter, "The only people who can fix this are the Russian people."
"Is there a Brutus in Russia? Is there a more successful Colonel Stauffenberg in the Russian military?" the senator wrote. Marcus Junius Brutus assassinated Roman ruler Julius Caesar, while German army officer Claus von Stauffenberg tried but failed to assassinate German leader Adolf Hitler in July 1944.
Russia's ambassador to the United States, Anatoly Antonov, called Graham's comments "unacceptable and outrageous" and said they expressed "off the scale" hatred in the United States toward Russia.
He demanded "official explanations and a strong condemnation of the criminal statements."
U.S. lawmakers, both Democrats and Republicans, also criticized Graham's comments.
Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz called Graham's proposal "an exceptionally bad idea," while Democratic Reprepresentative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota tweeted: "I really wish our members of Congress would cool it and regulate their remarks as the administration works to avoid WWIII."
Graham introduced a resolution in Congress condemning Putin and his military commanders for committing "war crimes" and "crimes against humanity" in Ukraine.
Some information for this report came from The Associated Press and Agence France-Presse.