Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., mocked Vladimir Putin's decision to grant Russian citizenship to National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden, and added that the president's "days are numbered."
Putin on Monday granted Russian citizenship to former U.S. intelligence contractor Snowden, nine years after he exposed the scale of secret surveillance operations by NSA.
"Now that Edward Snowden has been granted full Russian citizenship I expect he will be on the battlefield in Ukraine fighting for Putin any day now," Graham tweeted Monday afternoon.
"Or could it be that he will be exempt while other Russian citizens are told to fight in a war of aggression on Putin’s behalf?"
The senator quickly added: "I believe now, more than ever, Putin’s days are numbered."
Earlier this year, Graham was criticized by people for expressing hope that someone would "take out" Putin, and maintained that the Russian president needed to be neutralized.
"I hope he’ll be taken out, one way or another," Graham said when he was asked by a CNN reporter whether he still stood by his earlier calls for Putin to be assassinated. "I don't care how they take him out. I don't care if we send him to the Hague and try him, I just want him to go."
During an interview on Newsmax last week, Graham said Putin was "gaslighting" when threatening the use of nuclear weapons to "defend" territory he's trying to annex in Ukraine.
"He's losing," Graham said Wednesday on "Rob Schmitt Tonight." "He's losing on the battlefield, and about 20 political figures [in Russia] call for him to resign."
While President Joe Biden has kept public statements ambiguous about the consequences of Russian use of nuclear weapons, the administration has been sending private messages to Moscow for several months.
Those messages have warned of the grave consequences of the use of tactical, battlefield nukes and smaller precision nuclear weapons Russia would deploy to escalate the war effort in Ukraine, sources told The Washington Post.
Snowden, 39, fled the United States and was given asylum in Russia after leaking secret files in 2013 that revealed vast domestic and international surveillance operations carried out by the NSA, where he worked.
U.S. authorities have for years wanted him returned to the U.S. to face a criminal trial on espionage charges.
Reuters contributed to this story.
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