The former arms dealer, murderer, money launderer (and god knows what else), was serving a 25-year sentence in a U.S. Federal Prison before he was exchanged for WNBA star Brittney Griner. Upon release, he championed Putin's so-called "Special Military Operation" in Ukraine (Bout had a portrait of Putin in his prison cell), and "that if he had the opportunity and necessary skills, he would “certainly go as a volunteer.” According to his bio, Bout served in the Soviet Army, and rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel, although there is some dispute about this. Given his military background and his knowledge of weapons, one would think he'd make good on his promise.
Well, that was then. This is now.
After being freed in a prisoner swap for US basketball star Brittney Griner, arms dealer Viktor Bout is making rounds on Russian propaganda networks, but he is already changing his tune.
During an interview last month with convicted Russian agent Maria Butina for the state media outlet RT, Bout proclaimed his wholehearted support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and said he would certainly sign up as a volunteer, if he had the opportunity and necessary skills.
During his Wednesday interview with Komsomolskaya Pravda Radio, Bout was a lot more cautious, probably realizing that no special skills are required to be dispatched to the frontlines.
Hosts Dina Karpitskaya and Alexander Gamov listened to the “Merchant of Death” as he gushed about his unrelenting support for the so-called “Special Military Operation.” Bout said: “Like any Russian man, a patriot of the Motherland, I support this operation and will do everything in my power to speed up our victory and achieve all of our goals in this operation.” He added: “Most of our population rose up and is supporting this operation... Russia woke up! This capability was always within the Russian people, but now it’s being awakened since it’s needed. Our nation woke up after some kind of a hibernation after thirty years of being in limbo, a new Russia is starting to take place.”
Bout pompously proclaimed, “The state that our nation is currently in, I believe it is my duty to do something for my country.”
However, this “something” apparently does not include risking his own skin for the Motherland.
Gamov read a question sent in by one of the program’s listeners, identified only as “Vladimir Ivanovich”: “Let Bout prove his patriotism towards the Motherland by joining Wagner in Soledar. Did Prigozhin make him an offer of joining the PMC [a private military company]?” After a moment of stunned silence, Bout said with notable irritation, “No, there were no offers to join the PMC. There again, you have to understand where you can be most useful, and which of your skills and knowledge would be handy.”