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A former adviser to Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday the prisoner swap that sent Brittney Griner back to the US in exchange for arms dealer Viktor Bout was a win for Moscow — and made America look weak.

“Putin outplayed Biden,” Sergei Markov wrote in a scathing post on his Telegram channel

“We got back our spy, it seems, and gave away a normal girl,” he added. 

Markov praised Griner as an “excellent athlete” but said she was less important to the US than Bout is to Russia.

Prisoner swaps with the West should be “all in our favor,” he wrote.

Griner, 32, was detained on Feb. 17 at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport after Russian authorities found vape canisters with cannabis oil in her suitcase. She pleaded guilty to drug charges and was later sentenced to nine years of hard labor in a Russian prison camp. 

The head of Institute of Political Studies, Sergei Markov attends a press conference of Turkish Ambassador to Russia Umit Yardim (not seen) at MIA "Russia Today" Press Center in Moscow, Russia, on August 11, 2016.
Sergei Markov, pictured at a press conference in 2016, praised Russia’s leader for the swap.
Getty Images
Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout is escorted by members of a special police unit after a hearing at a criminal court in Bangkok in 2010
Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout was swapped for WNBA star Brittney Griner.
REUTERS

Bout, meanwhile, is a notorious Russian arms dealer nicknamed the “Merchant of Death” who had been in US custody since 2008. He was convicted in 2011 of conspiring to sell tens of millions of dollars worth of weapons for use against Americans by narco-terrorists and was in the middle of a 25-year federal prison sentence.

The swap was brokered by the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman along with the president of the United Arab Emirates.

President Joe Biden (R) speaks on the release of Olympian and WNBA player Brittney Griner from Russian custody, with Vice President Kamala Harris in the Roosevelt Room at the White House on December 08, 2022 in Washington, DC.
President Joe Biden spoke about Griner’s release at the White House on Thursday.
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Russia's President Vladimir Putin (front) toasts with participants in a ceremony to present Gold Star medals to Heroes of Russia in St George's Hall of the Grand Kremlin Palace. The event marks Heroes of the Fatherland Day celebrated on December 9
Sergei Markov said the swap makes clear that “Putin outplayed Biden.”
ZUMAPRESS.com

President Biden personally signed off on the swap, in which both prisoners were flown to Abu Dhabi via private jets before heading to their home countries.

“Brittney will soon be back in the arms of her loved ones and she should have been there all along,” the president said Thursday. “This is a day we’ve worked toward for a long time. We never stopped pushing for her release.”

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