US evangelist Franklin Graham has been criticised after he urged Christians to pray for Russian president Vladimir Putin amid rising tensions in the Ukrainian-Russian border.
"Pray for President Putin today. This may sound like a strange request, but we need to pray that God would work in his heart so that war - and the loss of thousands of lives - could be avoided at all cost," Graham wrote on his social media.
But his post sparked criticism from some political figures. The former financial chair of a political action committee to support Joe Biden's presidency Jon Coopers said on Twitter: "Trump-loving evangelist Franklin Graham just told his followers: 'Pray for President Putin today.' Unreal."
North Carolina's Democrat congressional candidate, Scott Huffman also tweeted against Graham's remarks.
"Franklin Graham asks his followers to pray for Putin. Guess he forgot about the Ukrainians and our NATO allies.
"It's almost like he supports the enemy who is about to declare war and kill people."
But some other prominent figures came out on Franklin Graham's defence.
Evangelical writer, David French said: "I've had my criticisms of Graham, but attacks on him here are off base.
"This is Putin's war, if he chooses it, and praying that he would seek peace isn't merely justifiable, I think it's imperative. That's what I'm praying."
Vanity fair's contributing editor, Jeff Sharlet said: "I'm last one to defend Franklin Graham-I report on Christian nationalism-but taking his "pray for Putin" post out of context replicates fascist misinformation. Graham asks followers to pray that God will turn Putin from war.
"There's enough nasty on the Right; no need to manufacture."
The relationship between Franklin Graham and Putin has been previously scrutinised.
In 2014, Graham was quoted saying he thought Russia's policies on protecting children from "gay propaganda" was better than Obama's LGBT policies.
He told Billy Graham Evangelistic Association's Decision magazine: "In my opinion, Putin is right on these issues."
"Obviously, he may be wrong about many things, but he has taken a stand to protect his nation's children from the damaging effects of any gay and lesbian agenda."