Former intelligence official says freeing Viktor Bout gives "a high value asset" to Russia

 December 11, 2022

President Joe Biden boasted this week that he had secured the release of Brittney Griner, a professional basketball player being held in Russia on drug charges.

Yet as Fox News noted, some critics say Biden has done a major favor for Russian President Vladimir Putin. 

Griner released from Russian prison on Thursday

According to the network, Griner was arrested in February when she was caught in a Moscow airport with vape cartridges containing cannabis oil.

The athlete was set free from a Russian penal colony late last week, a fact which Biden touted in a tweet on Thursday.

However, Griner's freedom came as the result of a controversial prisoner exchange involving Russian arms trafficker Viktor Bout, a Russian arms trafficker who has been nicknamed the "Merchant of Death."

Fox News noted that in 2008, Bout was caught attempting to sell $20 million worth of weapons to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, a Marxist anti-American terror group.

Bout, who served as inspiration for Nicholas Cage's character in the 2005 film "Lord of War," offered to provide advanced surface-to-air missiles along with automatic weapons, sniper rifles, and five tons of plastic explosives.

That swap has drawn criticism from some experts, including former Defense Intelligence Agency officer Rebekah Koffler.

Former intelligence official: Bout will play "a major role" in Ukraine

Koffler is the author of "Putin's Playbook: Russia's Secret Plan to Defeat America," and she told Fox News that Biden had handed Russia's dictator "a big win" by returning Bout.

The former intelligence official explained that "Bout is not an ordinary rogue actor" but instead someone with powerful ties to the Kremlin.

"He is linked to Putin himself through Igor Sechin, a former KGB operative, current CEO of Rosneft and one of the most influential people in Putin’s circle," she pointed out.

Koffler suggested that "Bout will likely be playing a major role in the Russia-Ukraine war now" as he can use his contacts as an international arms dealer to help Russia replenish it depleted inventory of weapons.

"He is a huge fish, a high value asset for Putin, compared to Griner," she stressed, insisting that Putin also "wants to show to the U.S. that he can be dealt with on a transactional basis, as long as he gets a deal on his terms."

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