After the exchange wanted by Joe Biden to bring Brittney Griner home, there are those in the Pentagon who do not hide their concern about the release of the arms dealer Viktor Bout, returned to Russia in exchange for the American basketball player. The fear is that the ‘merchant of death’ will return to its international arms trafficking, thus fueling conflicts around the world, particularly in Africa.
“I think there is a fear that he will return to the same job he used to do in the past,” a senior Pentagon official told Politico, speaking of Bout, who was sentenced to 25 years in prison for delivering missiles to a terrorist organization which aimed to kill Americans.
Even clearer is the judgment of Democratic Senator Bob Menendez, head of the Foreign Affairs Committee, who states: “We cannot ignore that sending Bout around the world is a very disturbing decision”. “We need to stop inviting dictatorial regimes to use Americans abroad as bargaining chips,” he adds, calling for a clearer policy in discouraging American travel to Russia.
White House Security Council spokesman John Kirby responded to these concerns: “We will make sure to defend our country from any threat, so with Bout back in circulation, we will stay focused on defending the country”.
From the Pentagon they then explain that in the event of a return of the ‘merchant of death’ to his activity, the American military will try to convince African countries – to which Bout has sold sophisticated weapons, in particular in Sierra Leone and Angola – that the trafficker does not he has their interests at heart.
“If its network is reactivated – the sources conclude – then we will explain the risks that illicit weapons represent for their prosperity”.