There is deep unease in the White House over the bargain struck by US President Joe Biden to free American basketball star Brittany Griner from Russian captivity. Experts have considered this an unequal exchange of prisoners. American media coverage hailed the exchange as an undisputed victory for Russian President Vladimir Putin. The US releases arms dealer Victor Bout to free Griner. At the same time, both were accused of different types at each other’s place.
Griner was sentenced in Russia for possession of a drug (cannabis). At the same time, Bout is said to be the biggest arms dealer caught in the last several decades. Bout is alleged to have smuggled weapons into Africa and some other continents. A US court also sentenced Bout on conspiracy charges to murder US citizens.
Analysts say Griner’s popularity in the US forced President Joe Biden to release him from Russian custody. Under the pressure of public opinion, he started talks with the Kremlin (Russian President’s Office). He had to hold these talks when the relations between Russia and America were at their worst. In this environment, the compulsion to compromise has been considered as drinking a sip of humiliation for Biden.
There has been speculation in the American media as to why the bout has such significance in Russia. Serious allegations were also made in the UN investigation into the bout. Several other international agencies indicted him for smuggling small to large arms. It is said that he has been in this business since the 1990s, and once, he was also accused of supplying weapons to the terrorist organization Al-Qaeda.
How popular the bout has been can be gauged from the fact that Hollywood filmmaker Nicolas Cage made a film named ‘Lord of War,’ keeping its story at the center.
An analysis published on the website of the TV channel CNN said- ‘It is a matter of great surprise that this exchange of prisoners was done at a time when Russia’s brutal attack on Ukraine is going on. This has revealed two things – the first is that during the Russian bombing killing Ukrainian citizens and the US providing arms to Ukraine, the US and Russia were still in a position to make a deal to their advantage. Secondly, it has become clear that Russian President Vladimir Putin is ready to trade his national pride for his close people.
But some other comments said that the Biden administration, despite all its anti-Russian campaign, succumbed to Putin’s pressure and went so far as to release an infamous criminal. This has created an uncomfortable situation for America.