From Robert Amsterdam’s latest article on the Huffington Post:
Most importantly, Bout is a picture perfect representation of “one of the men” currently in power in the Kremlin, and say what you will about Vladimir Putin, he is very loyal to his friends. Even if we could discount what Bout might or might not share in the case of extradition (although his family is exposed in Russia), the extraordinary effort on behalf of the Russian government to bring him home far exceeds any reasonable consular advocacy you would see for even a moderately important man.
Tellingly, a high-ranking Russian diplomat has just published an article arguing that if Bout is put on trial, the “reset” with the United States is over, period. No Bout, no reset, no good relations. Although projected as a personal opinion, many are interpreting this article as a direct message from the Kremlin to the Obama Administration.
On behalf of the United States, there appears to be some disputes about how much they actually want to receive Bout at this point. We all recall the recent spy swap organized with Russia, which underscored just how eager the Obama administration is in preserving this perceived foreign policy success. What’s to stop them for organizing another swap with Russia for some type of diplomatic concession – especially at a moment in which the new START treaty is getting tripped up?