Last week, the Biden Administration completed a trade with the government officials of Russia (the Kremlin) that secured the release of 8-time WNBA All-star Brittney Griner for the Viktor Bout (aka The Merchant of Death). Brittney Griner was arrested at the Sheremetyevo International Airport in Moscow (Russia) for allegedly having less than one gram of cannabis oil in her luggage. From a legal standpoint, if an individual is caught with at least 6 grams of cannabis in Russia, it is typically met with a series of fines and/or 15 days (in some cases, a maximum of two years) behind bars. Nevertheless, Brittney Griner was sentenced to nine years in prison. Therefore, the White House orchestrated a deal to bring Brittney home. But they paid a hefty price. Former Marine Paul Whelan remains in Russian captivity, while Viktor Bout (arrested for terrorism in 2008) is now free to do the very thing that made him famous: Engage in Illegal weapons trafficking and conspire to kill Americans. Viktor's release could trigger consequential ripple effects all over the world, including conflicts in developing African counties. According to reports, the Pentagon is fearful history could repeat itself in the near future, and they may soon reach out to their allies in Africa to be aware of his movement.
“Every Africanist who has been working on this for years and years probably will have a little piece of flutter of disappointment inside [regarding Viktor's release], said a Department of Defense official. “If his network … were to come to fruition, then we would definitely share the challenges of what illicit weapons or illegal weapons could mean for their prosperity.”
When asked to comment on the 'Brittney for Viktor' trade during an appearance on CNN, National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby expressed his confidence in the U.S. government's ability to monitor potential threats, including the newly released 'Merchant of Death.'
“We’re going to make sure that we can defend this country against any and all threats,” Kirby said on CNN on Thursday. “And so, with Mr. Bout being back on the street, we’re going to stay focused on making sure we can defend this country.”
During the year 2008, Viktor Bout was apprehended in Thailand during a sting operation by US authorities. He was originally sentenced to 25 years behind bars. If Viktor had been successful in his intentions, he could have provided numerous terrorist groups with anti-aircraft missiles and more.