'Unhinged' Strangeloves vs. Putin's puppets: Invasion of Ukraine ignites fight on the right

"Is there a Brutus in Russia?" Sen. Lindsey Graham tweeted. "Is there a more successful Colonel Stauffenberg in the Russian military? The only way this ends is for somebody in Russia to take this guy out."

Updated: March 6, 2022 - 10:33pm

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Russia's invasion of Ukraine has reawakened tensions on the right between GOP establishment hawks and MAGA doves, as military interventionists deride the latter as puppets of Russian President Vladimir Putin, while isolationists accuse "globalists" or "neocons" of inciting World War III — and pragmatists of varying shades seek a middle ground between the extremes.

The heated internal debate was propelled by Sen. Lindsey Graham's (R-S.C.) suggestion on Thursday that someone in Russia should assassinate Putin.

"Is there a Brutus in Russia?" Graham tweeted. "Is there a more successful Colonel Stauffenberg in the Russian military? The only way this ends is for somebody in Russia to take this guy out. You would be doing your country — and the world — a great service."

In a reply tweet, he added: "The only people who can fix this are the Russian people. Easy to say, hard to do. Unless you want to live in darkness for the rest of your life, be isolated from the rest of the world in abject poverty, and live in darkness you need to step up to the plate" 

Several conservatives answered with scorching criticism of Graham's suggestion.

Retweeting his colleague, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) commented: "This is an exceptionally bad idea. Use massive economic sanctions; BOYCOTT Russian oil & gas; and provide military aid so the Ukrainians can defend themselves. But we should not be calling for the assassination of heads of state."

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) responded to Graham with sarcasm. "When has Sen. Graham encouraging regime change ever ended badly?" he tweeted.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) called Graham "unhinged."

"While we are all praying for peace & for the people of Ukraine, this is irresponsible, dangerous & unhinged," she tweeted. "We need leaders with calm minds & steady wisdom. Not blood thirsty warmongering politicians trying to tweet tough by demanding assassinations. Americans don't want war."

Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) told Fox News' "The Ingraham Angle" on Thursday night that he thought Graham's tweet was "insane."

"Did he suggest that it should be a secret plot and tweet that, as well?" Massie asked sarcastically.

Radio host Todd Starnes tweeted out his article on Graham's suggestion, saying, "These idiots are going to start World War III."

Meanwhile, Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, who's a veteran and one of two Republicans handpicked by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to serve on the Jan. 6 committee, tweeted his support for a no-fly zone over Ukraine on Thursday: "This is a good moment to renew my call for a no fly zone, at the invitation of the Ukraine government. I fear if this continues, we will have to intervene in a bigger way." 

Daily Wire podcast host and bestselling author Matt Walsh retweeted the congressman. "Anyone who thinks we should start a world war for the sake of Ukraine is not fit for office," Walsh wrote. "Kinzinger is not just a moron. He's dangerous."

Meanwhile, host of Human Events Daily and veteran Navy intelligence officer Jack Posobiec retweeted a report on Friday that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky criticized NATO's rejection a no-fly zone over Ukraine, captioning it, "No WW3"

The Federalist Editor-in-Chief Mollie Hemingway tweeted Newsweek Opinion Editor Josh Hammer's opinion piece on the Ukraine-Russia situation, quoting: "'Putin is wrong for launching this conflict and setting off a horrific humanitarian nightmare. He should certainly be punished' but he's 'not Hitler, and this is not beginning of WWIII. Temper your emotions and your hot takes accordingly.'"

Hammer also tweeted on Friday that both statements can be true at once: that "Putin is a murderer and thug" and that "Zelensky is trying to bait easily duped Westerners into a catastrophic conflict."

Independent journalist Jordan Schachtel was taunted on Twitter by fellow conservative Caleb Hull, who asked how much Putin paid him for tweeting that "Zelensky's back is against the wall and he's trying to take the whole world down with him instead of negotiating terms to end the war."