At this point, we have to assume the Griner Trade went deeper than just a prisoner swap. A basketball player busted with a tiny amount of cannabis oil for one of the most legendary arms dealers of all time? Doesn’t seem to add up, does it?
Biden could have sat on this deal as long as he wanted, allowing Putin looking worse and worse for the arrest of someone who came to play ball on his court, but instead, things got weird.
The most pressing issue for both sides at this moment has nothing to do with basketball, but Putin needs weapons, and the Unites States would like Russia to leave Ukraine.
Putin has lost the war in Ukraine, and he knows it, or if he doesn’t know it, he will soon enough. An outright retreat under any circumstances and Putin is going to lose his job. However, if he lets Biden head the peace talks, and everyone sits down and agrees Russia got everything they wanted, but no new territory. The Russians leave with their glorious victory, then suddenly the deal makes much more sense.
Putin gets a win, Ukraine gets rid of Russia, Biden looks like a hero, and the war, for now at least, ends.
If we see a cease fire right around Christmas, we’ll know this is right.
Biden’s critics, and some days I am one of them, are going to say giving in to Putin is a terrible idea. However, the devil you know is much better than the devil you never met. If the war continues to drag on, and the Russian army continues to lose and lose big, and Russia see their military might beginning to drop to a level where a Boy Scout troop with sling shots can invade, Putin might get desperate enough to use nukes. Biden talking Putin down from that ledge with the promise that NATO won’t try to push the borders back might be enough for Russia to leave Ukraine, in and of itself.
In any case that causes a cessation of war, we can call this a win.
Now, Viktor Bout, a world renown arms dealer, spent ten years in an American prison for serious crimes, and you have to wonder if he can get back in the same business with everyone on earth watching him. You also have to wonder who Bout is working for now. A totally amoral character, Bout would sell any weapon to anyone for any amount he could get, and never bat an eye at what happened next. Clearly, the Russian’s stock is tanking, so perhaps Bout will be working to help them? Or not? I can’t really draw a bead on this one yet, but Bout didn’t go free for Brittney, and he isn’t rehabilitated, either.
But the big picture in this is Russia, and Putin, seem to be on the verge of collapse. Griner was a sideshow issue, and Bout could have rotted in prison for all anyone cared. Yet here we are, and I’m interested in how this is going to play out. This is not at all what it seems to be.