Brittney Griner is freed from Russia, but America isn’t


Maggie Davis, Delphi Staff

Brittney Griner, eight time WNBA All-Star, was just released from her 10 month detainment in Russia on Dec. 8, 2022.

On Feb. 17, 2022, Griner was arrested at Sheremetyevo International Airport in Moscow, Russia. Russian Federal Customs Services found 0.7 grams of marijuana in Griner’s luggage.

In Russia, possessing six grams of marijuana is an administrative crime, where more than seven grams is a serious offense. So why was Brittney Griner held and charged so aggressively?

Feb. 17 was just seven days before Russia launched attacks on Ukraine. With these full-blown invasions, U.S. and other countries had to prompt severe sanctions against Russia. These geopolitical tensions between U.S. and Russia definitely played a part in Griner’s arrest.

“This is a classic example of hostage diplomacy,” said AP Government teacher Ted Manner. “Russia took an American purely for their own self interest.”

Hostage diplomacy is a method that struggling and developing countries use to get leverage over others. Russia, a country with a $1.578 trillion GDP, using hostage diplomacy is quite alarming.

Throughout the war between Russia and Ukraine, Putin has been constantly making reckless decisions, whether it is calling up an additional 300,000 troops or nuclear threats. Russia is desperate and running out of options.

“For Russia to be using this type of tactic gives us a lot of insight,” said Manner. “The fact that they are using desperate measures like this says a lot about where they are right now.”

Where is Russia right now?

With the chokehold Russia has on the U.S., Russia is viewed as one of the most powerful countries in the world. With Putin’s lead, the country is not afraid to play dirty.

On Dec. 8, Griner was freed in a prisoner trade between the U.S. and Russia. With Griner back on American soil, everything seems to be solved. However, that is not the case.

Viktor Bout, or ‘Merchant of Death,’ was released by the U.S. in this trade. This Russian arms dealer earned his gruesome nickname from supplying weapons to some of the world’s most brutal conflicts.

There was going to be a trade to get Griner back on American soil, but a trade this unfair says a lot about Russia’s leverage over U.S. Now that Victor Bout is a free man in Russia, there are many concerns. Some expect Russia to use Bout as a secret weapon.

With the war against Ukraine raging on and the hatred for the U.S. growing stronger, Bout will be nothing but an advantage for Russia. Considering his past crimes, people are convinced Bout will obtain and sell dangerous and illegal firearms along with other weapons.

As much controversy as this trade is causing, it might have been the only way to get Griner back home. If Russia continued to imprison Griner, Russia would be fueled with all the U.S. control they needed.

For America, it is a victory to get Brittney Griner back home, safely.

“I’m glad that a person who was held as a political pawn was freed,” said math teacher Ryan Murphy. “Her punishment was not fit for this so-called ‘crime.’”

However, as a bystander, this trade is concerning for future affairs.

“As a female basketball player, this situation is not only unfair, but scary,” said freshman Ellen Jordan. “Both sides are bound to have consequences because of this trade.”

It has been almost one year since the first invasion between Russia and Ukraine, and this battle is nowhere near the end.

“Right now, Russia is not under the control of a leader, but a dictator,” said Manner. “This whole arrest and release is nothing but Russia using prisoners to get a grip on America and their people.”