Russian arms dealer on TV: Freedman Bout: Would go to war

Russian arms dealer Bout, who has been replaced by US basketball player Griner, says he would like to volunteer in the war against Ukraine - if he had the "necessary skills".

Russian arms dealer on TV: Freedman Bout: Would go to war

Russian arms dealer Bout, who has been replaced by US basketball player Griner, says he would like to volunteer in the war against Ukraine - if he had the "necessary skills". In his eyes, Russia's attack was overdue.

Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, who returned home after a prisoner swap between Moscow and Washington, has voiced his support for Russia's aggressive war in Ukraine. "If I had the opportunity and the necessary skills, I would go (to the front) as a volunteer," the 55-year-old said in a stream on Russian state broadcaster RT. He never understood why Russia didn't start the war earlier, he said.

Bout was traded for American basketball player Brittney Griner on Thursday despite strained relations between Moscow and Washington. While Griner was sentenced to nine years in prison for a drug offense in Russia a few months ago, Bout has already served 14 years in prison.

The Russian, known as the "Dealer of Death," was sentenced to a total of 25 years in prison in the United States for conspiracy to murder and arms trafficking. Moscow has repeatedly tried to get Bout released, who is said to have links to the Russian secret service.

The US government is facing heavy criticism, especially from Republicans, over the American Paul Whelan, who is still in prison in Russia. The former marine was arrested in Russia in 2018 and convicted of alleged espionage. Bout's release is a "gift" for Russian President Vladimir Putin, complained Kevin McCarthy, who is running for the presidency of the House of Representatives. "Leaving Paul Whelan behind for this is irresponsible." Ex-President Donald Trump had also railed against the prisoner exchange, calling it an "unpatriotic disgrace".

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