Sen. Marco RubioMarco RubioRepublicans giving Univision the cold shoulder: report Week ahead: Senate panel to vote on Trump's Labor pick Senators introduce new Iran sanctions MORE on Thursday called Russian President Vladimir Putin a “gangster” after a British probe determined that Putin likely approved the 2006 poisoning of a former spy.
“Vladimir Putin is a gangster,” Rubio (R-Fla.), a Republican presidential contender, said during a discussion on national security in Manchester, N.H.
“There’s every reason to believe Putin was behind [that attack] to use it as a pretext to blame it on Chechens,” Rubio said at an event coordinated by Americans for Peace, Prosperity and Security.
The GOP candidate also pointed to Russian efforts in Ukraine, Georgia and the annexation of Crimea as further signs that Putin is unhinged.
Rubio has made similar allegations about Putin before.
But Thursday’s claim comes on the heels of a British government analysis that Putin “probably” approved the poisoning of Litvinenko.
Litvinenko, a former Russian spy who had fled to Britain, was deliberately poisoned by two men at his London hotel, the report concluded. The men were likely acting under the direction of the Kremlin’s FSB intelligence service, it added, with direct oversight from Putin.
There was “undoubtedly a personal dimension to the antagonism” between Putin and Litvinenko, the inquiry added. Not long before his death, Litvinenko publicly accused Putin of being a pedophile.