Senator Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) spoke in August with a Russian prank caller who identified himself as the Turkish defense minister in order to fool Graham’s office into patching him through to the senator, according to Politico.
While speaking with who he thought was Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, Graham acknowledged that the Kurdish YPG forces pose a security threat to Turkey. That acknowledgement stands in sharp contrast to the praise that Graham has heaped on the Kurds in recent days for helping defeat the Islamic State, and the criticism that he has directed at President Trump for withdrawing U.S. troops from northern Syria ahead of the Turkish incursion into Kurdish territory.
“Your YPG Kurdish problem is a big problem,” Graham told the Russian prankster. “I told President Trump that Obama made a huge mistake in relying on the YPG Kurds” in the fight against ISIS.
“Everything I worried about has come true, and now we have to make sure Turkey is protected from this threat in Syria. I’m sympathetic to the YPG problem, and so is the president, quite frankly,” he continued.
A spokesman for Graham confirmed the contents of the call.
The Russian imposter who tricked Graham was Alexey Stolyarov, who along with Vladimir Kuznetsov has prank-called numerous Western politicians including Representative Adam Schiff (D., Calif.). Some suspect the pair have ties to the Kremlin, according to the Guardian.
Graham posted on Twitter earlier this week, “Pray for our Kurdish allies who have been shamelessly abandoned by the Trump Administration,” and helped draft a Congressional sanctions resolution against Turkey following the latter’s invasion of Syrian territory.