After being released from US custody in a prisoner exchange, Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout has expressed his support for Kremlin boss Vladimir Putin and the offensive in Ukraine. He “fully supports” Russia’s attack on Ukraine, Bout said in an interview with Russian television channel RT on Saturday. He was “proud to be Russian and our president is Putin”.
Bout said he “always” had a portrait of Putin in his cell while he was incarcerated in the United States. The 55-year-old former Soviet Air Force pilot was arrested in Thailand in 2008 and four years later sentenced to 25 years in prison in the United States.
Bout also said: “If I had the opportunity and the necessary skills, I would volunteer (to fight in Ukraine)”. He “can’t understand” why Moscow’s massive offensive in the neighboring country didn’t take place in 2014. “I know we will win,” he added.
After his return to Russia, he enjoys the snow and “the air of freedom,” explained Bout. The interview with him was conducted by Maria Butina, who herself had served a short sentence in the United States for working as a foreign agent for Russia.
In the RT interview, Bout denied press reports from the USA that he had sold weapons to the radical Islamic Taliban ruling in Afghanistan. “The Taliban put a bounty on my head. So how can you say I collaborated with them? It doesn’t make sense,” Bout said. He accused the West of using “drugs and LGBTQ” to promote a “suicide of civilization”.
According to a UN report, Bout was born in 1967 in Dushanbe, the capital of the former Soviet republic of Tajikistan. He studied at the Military Institute of Foreign Languages in Moscow, after which he enlisted in the Air Force.
He is accused of acquiring numerous weapons at low prices from military bases in former Soviet republics during the chaotic period after the collapse of the USSR in 1991 and reselling them in various conflict zones, particularly in Africa. Nothing is known about Bout’s possible connections to the Russian secret services.