President Reagan would be doing it right now, after the loss of a Reaper UAV over the Black Sea, Lindsey Graham claims
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham has suggested opening fire on Russian fighter jets that intercept US drones, after one such encounter ended with an MQ-9 Reaper plunging into the Black Sea on Tuesday.
"What would Ronald Reagan do right now? He would start shooting Russian planes down, if they were threatening our assets," the veteran hawk told Fox News, while commenting on the incident.
The Pentagon has accused Russian military pilots of conducting unsafe air maneuvers near the drone, which it claimed was on a surveillance mission near Crimea. At one point a Su-27 allegedly hit the Reaper's propeller, causing it to ditch in the sea.
The Russian Defense Ministry has denied reports of a collision, and claimed the drone stalled after executing a drastic maneuver. Moscow's Ambassador to the US, Anatoly Antonov, suggested that American drones that can carry weapons have no business flying near Russian borders.
Graham attributed the encounter to purported weakness shown by President Joe Biden, who the senator described as "a deer in the headlights." He concluded that the problem started with the pullout of troops in Afghanistan in 2021, will lead to new conflicts.
"If Putin gets away with this, there goes Taiwan. The two are connected," Graham claimed, referring to the self-administered Chinese territory, which President Biden has pledged to defend militarily, should China try to send military in.
Beijing has said its policy is to pursue peaceful reunification with Taiwan, but that it could resort to military force, should the island's government attempt to formally declare independence. The Chinese government has alleged that some in Washington are encouraging such an outcome.
Meanwhile Fox News host Sean Hannity, a fellow foreign policy hawk, has suggested shooting down two Russian drones over Ukraine in retaliation, and threatening to destroy ten more "the next time."
Graham, in response, praised the approach taken by former US President Donald Trump, including his order to assassinate Iranian General Qasem Soleimani for allegedly "killing Americans all over the Middle East."
Soleimani was a key figure in Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), and was hailed as a national hero for his efforts to quash the terrorist group Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS). Tehran retaliated over his killing, which occurred in January 2020 during a visit to Iraq, by bombarding US military bases in the country with missiles.