Viktor Bout, the notorious Russian arms dealer freed by the US government last week in exchange for basketball player Brittney Griner, stated on Saturday that he fully supports Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and wishes he could participate in the conflict.
“To be honest, I could not even understand why we didn’t do it sooner,” Bout stated in an interview with Russia Today (RT).
Maria Butina, who was imprisoned in the U.S. for espionage during the 2016 presidential campaign and was elected to the Russian parliament following her release, did the interview. Butina hailed President Joe Biden’s release of Bout as proof of Russia’s “strength” in comparison to the Biden administration.
“Why, you know, in 2014, there were rallies in Kharkiv, with people waving gigantic tricolors and yelling, ‘Russia, Russia, Russia,’ in Donbas and Odesa, too!” Bout said.
“Yes, the conditions were plainly not suitable, and we were not prepared,” he continued.
In other words, according to Bout, ethnic Russians and Russian supporters in Ukraine wanted Moscow to grab their homes as early as 2014, the year Russia unlawfully invaded Crimea.
Russian forces are now pounding civilian infrastructure locations in Odesa with missiles and Iranian-made drones, causing the city to go black, so there aren’t many locals waving tricolor flags and yelling “Russia, Russia, Russia” these days.
Bout stated that if the “opportunity and appropriate abilities” were available, he would volunteer to help the Russian invading army. Bout was a Soviet air force pilot before embarking on his lucrative career as the “Merchant of Death,” and at 55, he is younger than some of the troops Putin is deploying to Ukraine, so he appears to have the appropriate abilities to support the delayed invasion if he so desires.
“The West feels they did not kill us off in 1990, when the Soviet Union began to fall,” Bout said, recalling his time in the Soviet military. “They believe they can just annihilate us again and split Russia.”
Bout seems to be more interested in building a political campaign than in signing up for combat in Ukraine. He paused his victory lap through Russian media on Monday to join the Liberal Democratic Organization of Russia (LDPR), a fiercely pro-Kremlin ultranationalist party.
“I am confident that Viktor Bout, a strong-willed and fearless man, will occupy a respectable place. Welcome to our team!” Leonid Slutsky, chair of the LDPR, proclaimed. Bout will be invited to join party legislative meetings shortly, according to Slutsky.
The LDPR intends to send Bout on a tour around Russia to boost morale, promoting him as an expert in “freedom, peace, and love for Russia” who “survived great duress in an American prison and didn’t break,” as one local politician put it.
Disgusted US law enforcement officials warned Politico on Monday that Bout would return to the arms trade, resurrecting a career that featured big-ticket sales to clients eager to harm American soldiers and civilians.
Some of these sources were concerned that Bout would be more dangerous than ever, with his business network fortified by contacts acquired in prison and his image boosted by his passionate acceptance of Putin’s administration.
“The Merchant of Death is back in business, with more hatred for Americans and more drive to create conflicts and help Russia in its ridiculous and disastrous war with Ukraine,” retired DEA supervisor Derek Maltz said.
“Anyone who believes he’s washed up and Putin is not going to force him back into service, it’s beyond me. People who believe that are ignorant of how the actual underworld operates,” said Mike Braun, another former DEA head.