The Russians want their arms dealer back
SAEED KHAN/AFP/Getty Images FP contributor Doug Farah, who wrote the book on Viktor Bout, the world’s most notorious arms dealer, has sources telling him that the Russians are offering the Thais (who are holding Bout pending extradition to the United States) just about anything to prevent Bout from being shipped off to trial in America: ...
SAEED KHAN/AFP/Getty Images
FP contributor Doug Farah, who wrote the book on Viktor Bout, the world’s most notorious arms dealer, has sources telling him that the Russians are offering the Thais (who are holding Bout pending extradition to the United States) just about anything to prevent Bout from being shipped off to trial in America:
After several diplomatic efforts to get Bout out of prison and back to Russia, the Russian government, or at least its military establishment, has decided to let some money and hardware do the talking.
My sources tell me the Russian ambassador in Thailand has met several times with the Thai prime minister, and has offered sweet heart deals on weapons systems, including fighter jets, in exchange for Bout.
In addition, the Russians are offering sweet heart gas and oil deals to sweeten the pot…The question is, why would Bout be so valuable to the Russians, and what is it that they fear he could or would say in a court?
The most obvious answer is that he is deeply in bed and protected by the Russian military establishment and its intelligence services.
What’s curious about this situation is the fact that it seemed likely at the time of Bout’s arrest in March that there was no way the Thais (and by extension, the Americans) could have gotten their hands on such a prized prisoner unless the Russians had given the go-ahead. Bout allegedly lived openly in Moscow, and if his connections to the Russian intelligence agencies are as strong as many believe, there’s reason to believe that someone might have sacrificed him for other (higher) purposes. That said, this could be a case of luck and old-fashioned investigative work coming together and resulting in a major nab, in which case the Russians want him back, not least because of the fear he’ll talk. As with all things Bout, this situation is as murky as they come.
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