Former Russian Army Lt. Col. Viktor Bout, a convicted arms dealer known as the “Merchant of Death,” who the U.S. swapped with the Kremlin for WNBA player Brittney Griner, praised Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and said he wants to join the fight, according to state media.
When asked by Russian state-sponsored outlet RT about the invasion of Ukraine, Bout said: “I never understood why we didn’t do this earlier.”
“I fully support the special military operation,” Bout said, using Russia’s nickname for the invasion of Ukraine. “If I could share the skills I have, I would readily volunteer.”
He accused the United States of “inhumane” treatment while he was in prison and said he “lost a lot of weight.”
The Biden administration’s exchange of Bout for Griner has brought criticism from Republicans and Democrats alike.
When Bout was convicted in 2011 of conspiring to kill Americans and providing support to terrorists, including the Colombian FARC guerrilla army, then-Attorney General Eric Holder said he was “one of the world’s most prolific arms dealers” whose “arms trafficking activity and support of armed conflicts have been a source of concern around the globe for decades.”