Maria Butina, Russian state TV praise Putin for Bout-Griner prisoner swap: 'Capitulation by America'

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Russian state media and lawmakers praised President Vladimir Putin after Moscow sent WNBA star Brittney Griner to the U.S. for convicted Russian arms dealer Vitkor Bout, hailing the prisoner swap as a “capitulation by America.”

Russian state TV host Yevgeny Popov wrote on his Telegram account that the life of Bout, who arrived back in Russia late last night — “is only beginning,” according to Reuters.

“Everyone will forget about Griner tomorrow,” Popov added.

Maria Butina, who served 18 months in a U.S. prison after being convicted of acting as an unregistered foreign agent, called the prisoner swap “a capitulation by America.”

RUSSIA’S SWAPPED CONVICT VIKTOR BOUT SAYS IT’S ‘TOO SOON’ TO SAY WHAT HE WILL DO NEXT 

Viktor Bout sits inside a detention cell at Bangkok Supreme Court on July 28, 2008, in Bangkok, Thailand. 

Viktor Bout sits inside a detention cell at Bangkok Supreme Court on July 28, 2008, in Bangkok, Thailand. 
(Photo by Chumsak Kanoknan/ Getty Images)

“It shows that Russia doesn’t abandon its own while America has shown its defeat,” Butina — who is now a Russian lawmaker — said, according to Reuters. “Russia did not forget him.”

Russian state media also described Putin as “winning” the exchange with the U.S., Reuters added.

Russian officials have long pushed for the release of Bout, who was serving a 25-year sentence in U.S. prison after being convicted in 2011 of conspiracy to kill Americans, conspiracy to deliver anti-aircraft missiles and aiding a terrorist organization. 

In this photo provided by the U.S. Department of Justice, former Soviet military officer and arms trafficking suspect Viktor Bout deplanes after arriving at Westchester County Airport on Nov. 16, 2010 in White Plains, New York. 

In this photo provided by the U.S. Department of Justice, former Soviet military officer and arms trafficking suspect Viktor Bout deplanes after arriving at Westchester County Airport on Nov. 16, 2010 in White Plains, New York. 
(Photo by U.S. Department of Justice via Getty Images)

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He was nabbed in 2008 in a sting operation at a luxury hotel in Bangkok, Thailand, where he met with Drug Enforcement Administration informants who were posing as officials with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, which has been classified by U.S. officials as a narco-terrorist group

WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner is escorted from a courtroom after a hearing in Khimki, just outside Moscow, Russia, on Aug. 4, 2022. 

WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner is escorted from a courtroom after a hearing in Khimki, just outside Moscow, Russia, on Aug. 4, 2022. 
(AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Prosecutors said that Bout was prepared to provide the group with $20 million worth of “a breathtaking arsenal of weapons — including hundreds of surface-to-air missiles, machine guns and sniper rifles — 10 million rounds of ammunition and five tons of plastic explosives.” 

Fox News’ Paul Best, Caitlin McFall and The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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