Asked if Griner had been involved with him at the high-level exchange, the 55-year-old said, “Yes, she did. She felt very positive about me.”
An edited video of the pair shared by Russian state media on Thursday does not appear to show a conversation between the two, and Griner has not commented on the alleged exchange. Russian men can be seen on either side of Griner, and Bout is with an American man in khakis. Before, the two walk each other on the tarmac.
In an interview on Saturday, Bout also expressed support for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, saying Moscow should have launched military action “earlier”.
“I fully support it,” he said of the war. “Given the opportunity and the skills required, I would definitely apply.”
His interview was conducted by Marina Butina, a Russian agent who was convicted and imprisoned in the United States for conspiring to infiltrate the National Rifle Association and other organizations without registering with authorities. She was released and deported to Russia in October 2019.
Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medalist who was scheduled to play in Russia during the WNBA offseason, was arrested at an airport near Moscow in February. Sentenced to nine-and-a-half years in prison after packing an e-cigarette cartridge in her luggage, Griner said it was an honest mistake, and her lawyers said she would be fine as she treats chronic pain and other conditions. I said I have a prescription for
What is the Viktor Bout that the Russian arms dealer traded for Britney Griner?
When President Biden approved his release and commuted his sentence, Bout was accused of conspiring to kill a U.S. citizen and sell weapons to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in a medium-security prison in Illinois. was serving a 25-year sentence. The Kremlin had long called for Bout’s release, calling his conviction “illegal.”
In a separate interview on Friday with RT and Butina, Bout said his new freedom was difficult to explain.
“It’s hard to even find the right words to describe it all,” he said, adding that he doesn’t believe himself to be “in any way important” to Russian politics or Putin.
“We don’t leave our people behind, do we?” he said of Russia’s fight over his release.
Russia wanted Viktor Bout back. Here are the questions: why.
Griner landed in San Antonio early Friday morning, ending a nearly 10-month long story that has put one of the world’s best women’s basketball players at the center of tensions between the United States and Russia. Officials said Griner will receive treatment and other assistance.
Griner’s wife, Sherrel Griner, celebrated her partner’s return in an Instagram post on Saturday, adding that the couple are recovering from their time apart.
“As BG and I begin our journey to heal our mind, body and spirit, I wanted to personally thank some hands. Now!” she wrote.
Natalia Abbakumova, Miriam Berger, Mary Ilyushina, Arelis R. Hernández, and Niha Masih contributed to this report.