Brittney Griner’s release from Russian prison is way more than just sports


Brittney Griner’s release from Russian prison is way more than just sports

Brittney Griner and Viktor Bout being exchanged

News of Russia releasing celebrated American basketball legend Brittney Griner in a swap deal with Viktor Bout has caused ripples in sporting and international affairs circles. It was none other than President of the United States of America Joe Biden who broke the news of Britney being freed. By the time people heard the news in the US, eastern time zone, it was early morning, Thursday. The following day in the early hours of Friday, Griner landed back to the United States after 10 months. It triggered a massive response from commoners and athletes with celebrity tennis Billie Jean King leading the way.

ADVERTISEMENT

No doubt, the news of Brittney being released was big news for all Americans as she has received massive support since the time of her detention at an airport in Russia for possessing THC vape cartridges. This was in February after Russia had waged war on Ukraine and the world turned topsy-turvy. Russia sent Brittney to a hell-hole prison of sorts and her release deal was a closely guarded secret. After all, it involved Joe Biden, Vladimir Putin, and some well-meaning folks from Saudi Arabia and also Qatar.

That the release deal was kept well guarded goes to show how important Brittney had become since the time she was detained. It was on the tarmac of the Abu Dhabi airport, and Brittney and Viktor Bout crossed paths. Brittney will be landing most likely at a closely guarded destination in the US and then taken to the Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio. It’s a place that the US government uses for those who need to be debriefed and also treated medically, if necessary. “She is safe. She is on a plane. She is on her way home,” said Prez Biden in a tweet confirming her release, adding later during an address from the White House that she was in “good spirits”.

Over the last 10 months, Brittney has dominated the headlines. No doubt, she has been a big WNBA star who also won two Olympic medals but the pressure the US was exerting diplomatically was also not less. At a time when the US, Britain, and several European countries are against Russia for engaging in a mindless war with Ukraine, costs of which cannot be so easily calculated, Brittney becomes the fountainhead of news. She is part of the LGBTQ and her “wife” Cherelle Griner was also fighting for her release. To be sure, the entire basketball fraternity was not pro-Brittney’s release and there were ugly exchanges on social media as well over the last nine months.

ADVERTISEMENT

Images of a six feet and nine inches tall Brittney, all tattooed, are bound to be splashed in newspapers all over again and on TV when she returns. The US would view this as a diplomatic victory of sorts, though to exchange Viktor Bout, a dangerous arms dealer has come in for copious flak. He has been termed as dangerous and someone who has been an arms wheeler-dealer for a very long time. He had already spent close to 12 years in prison in the US, so releasing him in a barter deal would have been well thought of.

Related: WATCH: Brittney Griner’s prisoner-exchange video with Viktor Bout LEAKED

Brittney Griner’s release might have broken the ice between the US and Russia to a certain degree

Brittney Griner
Brittney Griner

Viewed from a political prism, this exchange between the US and Russia has ramifications, though many Yanks feel that Russia not releasing jailed US Marine Paul Whelan is very disappointing. This exchange was a one-on-one deal between the two countries. This is the time of cold, freezing winter in the US and Russia. The latest exchange of prisoners is a thaw of sorts, for diplomats.

Brittney Griner had support from Billie Jean King also because she has been championing the LGBTQ cause for a very long time. One can ask if a junkie woman basketball player is so important. There are optics involved and for the US, using sport as a means of opening a channel with Russia needs to be appreciated. Undoubtedly, the US is a superpower the world looks up to. Brittney has played in Russia during the off-season, so arresting her for possessing vape cartridges and then labeling her a smuggler may have been going overboard.

ADVERTISEMENT

It is well known many elite athletes use painkillers and other stuff like cannabis oil. Whether it is to kill pain or as a result of long-use habit formation, one will not know, explicitly. To be sure, in the US, the sale of many substances is OTC (over the counter) and drugs have ravaged society at large. Brittney is a big athlete, no doubting that. In any prisoner swap deal, there is give and take. It may be tempting for the US to go to town over the return of Brittney as she is certainly more important than a drug dealer.

Also Read: “Terrible place for a Russian,” Being Gay, Brittney Griner’s time in prison could be ‘worse’

Viewed from a macro point, It is good that sport has come into play in breaking the eerie silence between the US and Russia. Forget what Brittney does, as in drugs. It is very common in the US unless, of course, you are going to be hauled up by the anti-doping agencies. Who knows, Brittney Griner goes on to become a bigger star in an altogether different sphere of life. Right now, she is the cynosure and the world is happy two nations on silent mode have broken ice. Literally.

Also Read: Brittney Griner, who stood against the NATIONAL ANTHEM, has been rescued by Joe Biden over ex-Marine who was deemed GUILTY within 1 minute 30…

ADVERTISEMENT