Putin was well aware of the ruling class's priorities.
They literally can't NOT lie.
I also suspect at least part of the rationale was to incite the already pissed off Right. If (and perhaps with the help of some strategically implanted FBI agents provocateur) some sort of violence were to occur as a result they would have another 1/6 to exploit.
It also gives the Left a win to help distract from the Twitter Files.
"...the only WNBA trade that has ever made headlines..."
Does this deal mean that more WNBA players will be grabbed and held by foreign countries?
The guy who sent millions to Ukraine (where his son was on the board of a company he had no experience with, but was pulling in over $60k/month), then did a "one-for-one" trade of a sports celebrity (arrested a few months ago over a Marine who'd been in captivity 4 years) for a KNOWN Russian arms agent (nicknamed "The Merchant of Death"). The guy's son was also given huge amounts of money from Russia, particularly from a large city's mayor's wife. Who benefits most from the Griner trade?
CHINA. (A country that has paid tens of millions of dollars to the guy's family "for access" scam!) Not a secret China wants to invade Taiwan. They NEED Russia to pull it off. They particularly need a "well-armed Russia" that has not been defeated by Ukraine. Brandon profits from every friggin' angle--and pretty soon will have us in a huge war. That was confirmed the day he said he was running for another term. History has taught us, they can't possibly win without a war. Just watch.
How long before Grineer makes the press tour talking about how much she hates America?
The cherry on top is perhaps that Griner also committed a crime in Russia and plead guilty to it while Whelan's case sounds a lot more suspicious. I don't know if someone at the state department had warned Griner that she could be targeted in that way when traveling to Russia which isn't known for it's tolerance towards the LBT.
Maybe Griner learns to appreciate her country a bit more now.