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Lindsey Graham calls for US to shoot down Russian fighter jets

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) testifies before the Senate Committee on Finance on Sept. 25, 2017, in Washington, D.C. Key Senate Republicans are urging President Donald Trump to work with Democrats to end spending bills before the new fiscal year begins. (Ron Sachs/CNP/Sipa USA/TNS)
March 16, 2023

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) responded to Russia’s Tuesday downing of a U.S. drone by saying the U.S. military should take aggressive action against Russian fighter jets.

Graham called for retaliation, including a threat to shoot down Russian jets in future situations, during an interview on Fox News’ “Hannity.”

READ MORE: Video: Pentagon releases footage of Russian jets dumping fuel on, crashing US drone

“If you ever get near another U.S. asset flying in international waters, your airplane will be shot down,” he said.

“What would Ronald Reagan do right now?” Graham added. “He would start shooting Russian planes down if they were threatening our assets. American foreign policy is in freefall.”

The remarks came after two Russian military jets took down a U.S. MQ-9 Reaper drone flying over the Black Sea in international waters, according to the U.S. European Command.

READ MORE: US defense secretary calls Russia ‘reckless,’ says drone flights will continue

“Our MQ-9 aircraft was conducting routine operations in international airspace when it was intercepted and hit by a Russian aircraft, resulting in a crash and complete loss of the MQ-9,” said U.S. Air Force Gen. James B. Hecker, commander, U.S. Air Forces Europe and Air Forces Africa. “In fact, this unsafe and unprofessional act by the Russians nearly caused both aircraft to crash.”

“U.S. and Allied aircraft will continue to operate in international airspace and we call on the Russians to conduct themselves professionally and safely,” Hecker added. 

Fox News host Tucker Carlson later criticized the senator’s remarks in his own commentary.

“What would Ronald Reagan do? Oh, good question, Senator Graham,” Carlson responded. “Ronald Reagan’s two-term presidency was notable for the fact that he did not declare war on the Russian air force, and therefore the United States did not go to war with Russia and millions of lives were saved as a result.”

It’s not the first time Graham has made controversial remarks about Russia. Last year, the South Carolina senator called for Russians to take out Russian President Vladimir Putin to end the Ukraine invasion.

“Is there a Brutus in Russia? Is there a more successful Colonel Stauffenberg in the Russian military?” Graham tweeted, referring to the Roman politician who helped kill Julius Caesar and Claus von Stauffenberg, a German officer who attempted to kill Adolf Hitler during World War II.

Lindsey has also spoken against China’s involvement with Russia to support its war in Ukraine.

“To the Chinese, if you jump on the Putin train now, you’re dumber than dirt. It would be like buying a ticket on the Titanic after you saw the movie,” he stated on ABC’s “This Week” in February.