Russian media outlets are having a field day with the exchange that sent WNBA star Brittney Griner back to the U.S. in return for the so-called “Merchant of Death.”
Griner was released from a Russian prison on Thursday morning after being incarcerated for nearly ten months when illegal vape cartridges with hashish oil were confiscated at a Moscow airport earlier this year.
Gaining his freedom from a U.S. prison was Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, who was sentenced to serve 25 years after a 2011 conviction on several charges. These included conspiracy to kill Americans, aiding a terrorist organization, and conspiracy to sell anti-aircraft missiles.
Whelan is serving a 16-year sentence handed down in 2020 for his conviction by a Russian court for alleged espionage. His release appeared to be the far more reasonable goal of the White House, and more than a few questioned the administration’s priorities, as did Russian news agencies.
NBC had a bombshell report that Russia offered America Brittney Griner OR Paul Whelan, citing a senior government official. It would be Biden's choice which one to save.
The report was later edited without explanation to mirror Biden's explanation that only Griner was offered. pic.twitter.com/5BvGeyP0RU
— David Hookstead (@dhookstead) December 9, 2022
One Russian news anchor listed three reasons why Griner was the more attractive option for the U.S. to bargain for. One is that Whelan “is White,” second is that he is a man, and finally he is heterosexual.”
The outlet called Whelan a “spy” and asserted he is a “hero” in the U.S.
The host concluded that “Griner beats him in every aspect.” And whether the moderator got every detail correct, it is obvious how much of the world views the Biden administration with its ridiculous fixation on identity politics.
The administration doubled down on its claims that every resource is being used to bring Whelan home as well. Secretary of State Antony Blinken released a statement thanking his department for working to secure Griner’s freedom.
He added that “Paul Whelan and his family continue to suffer needlessly” in spite of the White House’s “ceaseless efforts.” Blinken lamented that Whelan was not on the same plane as Griner, and he pledged that the nation will continue its push to bring the former Marine home.