USA Swaps ‘Merchant of Death’ for WNBA Player in Kremlin Deal


Russia is not a nation that appears to have the best interests of the world at heart, as evidenced by their often deceitful and conniving actions on the world’s stage.

For instance, when US WNBA star Brittney Griner was caught with a tiny amount of marijuana oil in her luggage, she was given the maximum sentence of 8 years at a hard labor camp by Russian authorities, as they knew that they could use the moment as a bargaining chip with the Biden administration.

…and boy did they.

Russia freed WNBA star Brittney Griner on Thursday in a high-profile prisoner exchange, as the U.S. released notorious Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout. But the U.S. failed to win freedom for another American, Paul Whelan, who has been jailed for nearly four years.

The deal, the second in eight months amid tensions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, secured the release of the most prominent American detained abroad and achieved a top goal for President Joe Biden. But it carried what U.S. officials described as a heavy price.

“She’s safe, she’s on a plane, she’s on her way home,” Biden said from the White House, where he was accompanied by Griner’s wife, Cherelle, and administration officials.

The move came with its own unique controversies.

Even so, the fact that the deal was a one-for-one swap was a surprise given that U.S. officials had for months expressed their determination to bring home both Griner and Whelan, a Michigan corporate security executive jailed in Russia since December 2018 on espionage charges that his family and the U.S. government have said are baseless.

“We’ve not forgotten about Paul Whelan,” Biden said. “We will keep negotiating in good faith for Paul’s release.”

The deal was lambasted on Twitter as well, with many users lamenting the scores of other Americans who are still being harshly imprisoned in Russia.