Putin's Days Are 'Numbered' After Granting Snowden Citizenship: Graham

South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham believes Russian President Vladimir Putin's days are numbered after granting citizenship to U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowden, who went on the run after leaking highly classified information from the National Security Agency detailing its surveillance of U.S. citizens.

In a Tweet Monday morning, Graham mocked the announcement from the Russian government by questioning whether Snowden would receive preferential treatment from the Kremlin as it institutes its first troop mobilization since World War 2––a move some analysts describe as an indication of the country's increasing desperation in its ongoing war with Ukraine.

Snowden
Computer security consultant Edward Snowden in connection from Russia during the Wired Next Fest 2019 at the Giardini Indro Montanelli on May 26, 2019 in Milan, Italy. Rosdiana Ciaravolo/Getty Images

"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. "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?"

"I believe now, more than ever, Putin's days are numbered," added Graham.

Graham's position was echoed by that of the U.S. State Department, whose spokesman Ned Price told reporters Monday that the only thing that has changed due to Snowden's Russian citizenship may that he "now well be conscripted to fight in Russia's war in Ukraine."

Snowden would actually be exempt from Russian military service, however, as he has never served in the Russian armed forces, his lawyer Anatoly Kucherena told the Interfax news agency Monday. Price himself said Monday he believed Snowden had already renounced his citizenship, though the U.S. government still maintains that Snowden remains a U.S. citizen, and is still considered to be an active fugitive with dual citizenship.

"He should face justice as any American citizen would," Price said Monday.

However, the announcement was seized by Snowden's critics as indicative of a longstanding conspiracy theory he and other whistleblowers––like WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange––were essentially foreign agents for the Russian government seeking to undermine the credibility of the United States government. Others rejected those claims, noting Snowden ended up in Russia largely to avoid prosecution by the U.S. government.

"When Snowden left Hong Kong and landed in Moscow to transit to Latin America, Obama officials like (former Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications and Speechwriting under President Barack Obama Ben Rhodes) did everything possible to prevent him from leaving, to trap him in Russia," Snowden ally and journalist Glenn Greenwald tweeted. "Rhodes boasted of it in his book. Ever since, they've used this to imply he's a Russian agent."