Viktor Bout Release Is Hailed In Russia As A Kremlin Victory!

Viktor Bout Release: The United States has freed Viktor Bout, a convicted arms dealer known as the “Merchant of Death,” in exchange for the release of Brittney Griner, a prominent player for the women’s basketball team who had been detained in Russia since February.

Griner, who was given a nine-year prison term for possessing vape cartridges containing cannabis oil, has been the subject of months’ worth of speculation in Russian official media that he might be swapped for Bout, whose release the Kremlin has long wanted.

Earlier rumors had centered on a prospective swap for both Griner and American Marine veteran Paul Whelan, who was jailed in Russia for 16 years on espionage allegations that the U.S. authorities denounced as untrue and that he called a setup. But only Griner received the final agreement.

The first public look at efforts to repatriate Griner and Whelan came on July 27 when Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated that the United States had made a “serious proposal” to Russia. Russian officials declared they were “ready to discuss” a prisoner swap a week later.

Viktor Bout Release
Viktor Bout Release

When American media reported that a possible prisoner swap for Bout was part of the deal under consideration, Biden administration officials chose not to comment. The Kremlin claimed that no agreement had “yet” been reached, and for several months there was no word of any development in the media.

To “bring our people home,” Blinken said that the United States has been “actively engaged over these many months to try to move things along” on “Face the Nation” last Sunday. You may also check Brittney Griner Begins To Transfer To The Russian Penal Colony!

After being led to Thailand in a Drug Enforcement Administration sting operation that involved three continents, Bout, a former interpreter for the Soviet military who later became an international arms dealer, spent more than ten years in prison.

The former director of operations for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Michael Braun, stated on “60 Minutes” in 2010 that Viktor Bout was “one of the most dangerous men on the face of the Earth.”

According to a 2012 New Yorker story, Bout, the son of a bookkeeper and an auto mechanic, was drafted into the Soviet Army at the age of 18 after participating in competitive volleyball as a youngster. He fought in an infantry brigade in western Ukraine for two years before applying to study Portuguese at the Military Institute of Foreign Languages in Moscow.

While others, including his former business partner and a former CIA officer, said Bout had formerly worked for the GRU, the Soviet Union’s foreign military intelligence agency, Bout swore to The New Yorker that he had never been a spy.

He started spending time in the cargo hangars at Sharjah International Airport in the United Arab Emirates in 1995 when he was 28 years old. He finally started his cargo airline, Air Cess, with a modest fleet of Russian aircraft that transported cargo to Africa and Afghanistan.

In the years that followed, Bout supplied more advanced weapons, sometimes to both sides of the violent battles, and aided in igniting civil wars all over the world. Someone else would do it if I didn’t, Bout reportedly told the New Yorker.

He was then being watched by British and American officials. As increasingly advanced weapons began to strike British soldiers in Africa, Peter Hain, the minister of state for Africa in the British Foreign Office, raised the alarm.

“Sanctions-busters are still escalating the conflict in Sierra Leone and Angola, which is costing countless lives and resulting in mutilations. Viktor Bout, who owns air companies that transport weapons and other logistical support for the rebels in Angola and Sierra Leone and take out the diamonds that pay for those arms, is the main sanctions-breaker.

He also acts as a merchant of death by encouraging people to fire their weapons at British soldiers “Hain made this statement to the Commons in 2000. According to Damien Lewis’ book “Operation Relentless: The Hunt for the Richest, Deadliest Criminal in History,” the nickname “Merchant of Death” “had come to Hain spontaneously, as he’d read yet another intelligence briefing on Bout’s actions.”

“It immediately struck a chord, and the press picked up the hue and cry.”  The Office of Foreign Assets Control of the Treasury Department in the United States announced penalties against Bout and his companies that resulted in the freezing of assets and the impossibility of any transactions through American banks.

The U.S. government unknowingly hired two of his companies to transport supplies to American troops in Iraq because his business was so well-hidden by front firms. In 2007, the Drug Enforcement Administration came up with a scheme to get Bout out of Russia with a tempting arms trade.

An undercover agent was employed by the CIA to speak with Bout’s reliable business partner about a significant business venture. The DEA’s fake arms buyers, who were impersonating representatives of the FARC, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, met Bout’s accomplice on the island of Curacao, some 300 miles off the coast of Colombia, as a result of that trade.

Andrew Smulian, a colleague of Bout’s, flew to Moscow to deliver the contract to Bout. Two weeks later, in Copenhagen, Smulian met with the undercover agents and informed them that his business partner approved of the arrangement.

A few weeks later, Bout was en route to Thailand to meet with FARC leaders to discuss transporting what the prosecution described as “an armory of military-grade weapons” to Colombia to target American helicopters.

Bout admitted that the guns may be used to kill Americans at a meeting with DEA informants posing as FARC officials in a Bangkok hotel conference room in March 2008. He also said that he could airdrop the arms in Colombia.

Thai police and DEA operatives barged into the room and abruptly seized Bout after listening in on the meeting. The game is over, declared Bout. After two years of legal proceedings, he was extradited to the US in 2010, and a year later he was found guilty of terrorism-related offenses.

Bout received a 25-year prison term. According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons website, he was not scheduled to be freed until August 2029 at the age of 55. Before being sentenced, Bout told The New Yorker, “They’ll try to lock me away for life.” “I’ll return to Russia, though. I’m not sure when. I’m still young, though.”

Frequently Asked Questions

How was Viktor Bout caught?

Bout was seized by Thai authorities in March 2008 as US undercover operatives talked to him about weapon shipments to the FARC. In November 2010, Bout was extradited to the US, where he was found guilty of planning to kill US citizens and government officials. 

How much time does Viktor Bout have left?

Bout received a 25-year prison term. According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons website, he was not scheduled to be freed until August 2029 at the age of 55. Before being sentenced, Bout told The New Yorker, "They'll try to lock me away for life."

What has Viktor Bout done?

KELLY: Just to quickly remind everyone, Viktor Bout was found guilty of conspiring to kill Americans, purchasing and exporting anti-aircraft missiles, and giving financial assistance to a terrorist group.

Final Lines

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