She was portrayed in the Russian media as a “lesbian drug user,” skillfully plucked from a plane leaving Russia, to be traded for a valuable patriotic citizen imprisoned in America.
Brittney Griner was finally freed from a Russian jail after almost a year in prison last week. To Vladimir Putin, she was a useful pawn in his battle to humiliate the United States as a pathetic state with weak leadership that bows to Russian might and his superior negotiating strategy.
For Putin, it was one more part of the game of war. He must know that his attack on Ukraine has failed, and his army and its leadership have floundered. His only success has been lobbing missiles from a distance, killing civilians, hobbling Ukraine’s electrical grid, and bombing schools by using drones obtained from Iran.
To the Western world he is this century’s Hitler. He also has exposed everyone’s naivete in abandoning fossil fuels by following the dream of converting to wind and solar power long before it was ready.
Putin proved his point but lost the argument as Europe put new life into NATO and America provided the sophisticated weapons Ukraine desperately needed.
He was looking for a way to show up America and make it look helpless to his shrewd bullying. Poor Brittney Griner, a 32-year-old American female basketball star, provided the tool in his bully’s manual.
She had gone to Russia to play basketball in a Russian women’s league and pick up a million dollars as her reward. Many American stars have done the same thing. Sue Bird, probably the best woman to ever play the game, has recounted in podcasts her adventures playing Russian ball. The money was too good to pass up, so Griner took the chance, thinking her fame would be her shield.
Griner by most accounts is a friendly, easy to like person, who was unprepared for Russian treachery. After being pulled off the plane for possessing two vials of vaping hashish, she endured months of imprisonment before she had a show trial in which she pleaded guilty on advice from her lawyers.
It was part of Putin’s callous chess game. Soon after the sentencing to eight years in prison, the hostage negotiators in both countries began the process of trading prisoners.
Viktor Bout was clearly the plum that Putin wanted to spring. He is a fanatical hater of America. He had sold arms in Congo, Rwanda, and Colombia, and traded in cocaine. He was proud of his nickname, the “Merchant of Death.” This guy is the worst of the worst and he immediately joined an ultra nationalist party in Russia, which treated him as royalty when he arrived in Moscow.
He had served 11 years in a maximum security prison in the United States. Some people in Russia are pushing for him to get into politics in the Kremlin, but he appears to want to resume arms trading for drugs.
So Vladimir Putin got his guy. To him, it was an almost laughable deal. He traded an amiable American woman, a basketball player with a loving wife in America, for stealthy smuggler Viktor Bout. The Americans wanted Paul Whelan too, a former Marine who has spent four years in a Russian prison, but Putin held out, and in the end, President Biden settled for just Brittney. Another case of Biden’s weakness in Putin’s sinister mind.
Putin proved himself to be a shrewd, malevolent tyrant. He is cruel to the core.
Many people in this country are criticizing the US negotiators for being weak and folding for political reasons. I do not see it that way. I have learned from a long business career that you have to make a deal when you can make it, because the opportunity can easily slip away. In my mind, the United States did not lose in this transaction.
I subscribe to Oscar Schindler’s quoting of the Jewish Talmud in Schindler’s List: “Whoever saves one life saves the entire world.”
Question: How would you have handled the Brittney Griner deal?
I for one would never enter a foreign country with illegal drugs of any kind. Guess it is Ok for Brittney though. Special rules, Hmmm. Woke me up you might say.
Ever watch the movie Midnight Express?
Now we have a pissed off arms dealer out there looking to get even for what we did to him. Good call, trading her for him. Maybe he will be forgiving for the time he spent in our prison, likely nicer than the Russian version, but I don’t think so. He is likely as evil as Putin, though have to say I don’t know a lot about him.
This is the most lopsided trade since Herschel Walker was shipped from the Cowboys to the Vikings for multiple players and first round draft picks.
Biden gets nothing out of this other than daytime talk-show kudos from a bunch a cackling hens.
“Whoever saves one life saves the entire world.”
May you be reminded of this when Viktor Bout through his direct or in-direct actions takes lives again.
I’m glad that we got Brittney back home. If the hash oil was not planted, them shame on her for being so stupid for trying to transport it from Russia to home.
Now bring Paul Whelan home too!
I also hope that we planted a tracking device in Viktor Bout so that we can arrange a hit on him down the road.
The Russian people need to realize that Putin is poison and needs to be removed before they can ever hope to rejoin the real world.
Do you think she will stand for The National Anthem now? I would have left her in Russia.
Brittney was going to russia when she was arrested not leaving/
Brittney committed a crime.
Paul Whelan was going to a wedding.
I guess we traded a criminal for a criminal.. seems fair…
The Talmud also says Dina d’malkhuta dina. Live by the laws of the land in which you live. She did not!
So much to say, so little time.
For starters, Ukraine is a giant money laundering swamp for democrat money.
Burisma – Dont forget – TEN PERCENT FOR THE BIG GUY!
FTX collapse, WITH some $70 million of political donations are tied to FTX going to DEMOCRATS
And so much other shenanigans over there.
We just gave them some $68 BILLION in aid and they are looking at $40 BILLION MORE!
Every democrat is getting a piece of the kickback action…
[nothing to see here, just keep moving along]
Back when Sleepy Joe was VP, In his own words, with video cameras rolling, he
threatened Ukrainian President Poroshenko in spring of 2016 that the Obama administration would pull $1 billion in U.S. loan guarantees, sending the former Soviet republic toward insolvency, if it didn’t immediately fire Prosecutor General Shokin who was investigating his, no experience, crack smoking son, Hunter, working for an Oil and Gas company.
“He said, ‘You’re not getting the billion. and looked at them and said: ‘I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired.
The guy got fired and Hunter kept his job.
The Ukrainian laundromat keeps working, and I’m sure THE BIG GUY IS STILL GETTING HIS TEN PERCENT…
We are some 30 TRILLION in debt, how long can we just keep printing money ’till it all falls apart ?
Unfortunately our education system does not teach real economics 101 anymore.
Nor the history of many throughout the world bringing a wheelbarrow of money to buy bread in the morning.
Not in the afternoon because it would be stale, but because you would nee TWO wheelbarrows of money due to the exponential inflation caused by money printing.
The new keynesian economic models are all new theories with no long term support.
Back to the ungrateful fool of an overpaid, “privileged” athlete.
As a professional athlete you should know:
YOU DO NOT DO DRUGS !
You play by the rules !
You should be grateful for so many incredible opportunities…
We have too much of “It’s not my fault” attitude today.
If I smuggled dope into Russia and got into a similar situation, no one would give two turds about me and the “injustice”.
And this administration hasn’t a care about a member of the military who served two tours in the sandbox.
Instead looking for glowing reviews from the mostly uninformed general public for saving a sports star.
A sports star who put herself in a bad position with her own stupidity and arrogance.
Griner said we should stop playing our National Anthem at sports events and she would protest.
What a spoiled ungrateful person.
Lets be honest, she would not have died in that prison.
Hard time? I’m sure.
Death – NO!!!
But fear not!
The “Merchant of Death” is going to be back in business shortly, and will anyone keep tally of the carnage he will create far and wide?
That will remain unreported, never to see the light of day.
If the many deaths are not reported, are those lives saved?
“Whoever saves one life saves the entire world.”
For starters, President Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. should have read “The Art of the Deal” and learned some negotiating skills.
Save some lives?
CLOSE THE BORDER !
We have over 100 THOUSAND deaths a year from the fentanyl.
What of the lives lost and destroyed in the caravans .
Young unaccompanied, underage, girls are given birth control implants before the journey – knowing that they will be raped multiple and numerous times on the journey and will likely end up in the sex trade to pay off the coyotes.
A favorite quote to reflect on is:
A single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is but a statistic…
An Israeli named Bergman living in Virginia working with the Richardson Organization negotiated the deal. Whelan was supposed to be part of it snd the Russians reniged at the last minute. You can rant about Biden all you want but in the end he had to choose Griner or nothing for Bout.
He has served 11 years so he isn’t getting out without punishment. Griner is naive but important as a human being. We are showing American values to get her out when we can.
You walk away. Bout will deal arms again and people will die because of him and Griner’s life goes on…….and Whelan is still in a Russian prison.
“I have learned from a long business career that you have to make a deal when you can make it, because the opportunity can easily slip away. ” Lloyd, I bet you have walked away from lots of deals over the years because it just wasn’t the “right” deal. This wasn’t the right deal.
Preach it Rick!
I have been reading your column faithfully since I stumbled across it many years ago. I am 81 years old and just recently retired from the mfg. rep business after 58 years selling cutting tools and machine tool accessories.
I agree with most of your weekly articles. However, I am completely stumped with your opinion on the subject. Don’t understand your reasoning?
I totally agree with Rick in NYC on his comments with the Brittney Grier exchange. She knew exactly what she was doing when landing in Russia with drugs. Thought she could get away with it. Instead, this caused an international incident, putting the U.S. in a difficult position of negotiating her release from detention. And the U.S. made the wrong decision. Anyway, I could go on further, but Rick in NYC said it best and I’ll leave it at that. Charlie B.
The Question: How would you have handled the Brittney Griner deal?
You said “So much to say, so little time”.
You probably spent an hour pontificating (look it up), and went way off course by droning on and on.
Please save your rhetoric (look it up) for all your other ranting forums.
So Paul Whelan has survived 4 of his 16 years.
Brittney Griner didn’t even do a whole year of her 9 years.
As I said, they will not “kill” either, tough times – yes.
PDJT said in book “The Art of the Deal”, some of the best deals are the ones you walk away from.
We should have let her sit and spent some more time to reflect on her own stupidity, learn some humility (look it up).
Obtw, I had a parochial school education, so I have a great comprehension and vocabulary. The nuns beat it into you, literally…
I worked on a chemical project in East Germany in the early 1970s. Over that time I went through Checkpoint Charlie several times. I was always very careful about what I brought in (or out). I wouldn’t even bring in a sports magazine or a Louis Armstrong record. Anything could be confiscated, and could lead to being detained. It was always a matter of the East-West politics on any given day. I can’t believe that Britany Griner could be so naive. However, even dumb people need to be looked after, and Biden made a decent decision.
I agree that she made the biggest brain fart ever when she brought hash in the country. But we all do dumb stuff, right?
I think it’s a pity that we didn’t get Whelan instead. I really hope it was the case that Griner was the only choice. If that is the truth, ok. If we had the choice who we got, then I think it’s unfair for her to get out before him. He has been there longer.
My question to many of the haters in this discussion is, would you feel good about the deal if Whalen was the one who got out?
Would you prefer it because you like him better? Because he didn’t get trapped for breaking the law?
Because he is a hetero sexual white marine? I’m not calling anyone racist, but I wonder if some people latently think that way.
Griner is still a life. Does she not deserve freedom as well?
“I agree that she made the biggest brain fart ever when she brought hash in the country. But we all do dumb stuff, right?” – and sometimes there is a price to pay for the “dumb stuff” we do. Why is she exempt from the consequences of her actions? You have to think she is either stupid (ignorant of the laws) or arrogant (thinks she is above the law).
Haters – really??
“trapped for breaking the law” – you think the Russians planted the drugs?
You may say you are not calling anyone a racist but that is certainly the implication of your remarks if we disapprove of Griner coming home and Whelan being left.
so per your last remark substitute Whelan for Griner – Whelan is still a life. Does he not deserve freedom as well?
I am just a simple guy who believes in right and wrong and actions have consequences. Do I think the Russian govt is corrupt, did they do this for political purposes absolutely, but I also believe our government is also corrupt, on both sides of the aisle, and made a deal that was in their best interest for political points.