Lavrov states that Russia is prepared to discuss a prisoner swap with the United States. A day after a Russian court sentenced basketball star Brittney Griner to nine years in prison for a narcotics offense, Russia announced today that it is willing to negotiate prisoner swaps with the United States through an existing diplomatic route. Follow For More Updates at Rapiddnews.com
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stated that President Vladimir Putin and Vice President Joe Biden had already agreed on a diplomatic mechanism for discussing such concerns.
Lavrov states,“The same goes for Paul Whelan,” Blinken added.
A US State Department source told reporters earlier on Friday that Russia had not provided a “serious answer” to a planned swap. According to the same person, Blinken and Lavrov did not meet during the Cambodia summit, nor did Blinken want to do so.
Before Thursday’s WNBA game between Brittney Griner’s Phoenix Mercury and the Connecticut Sun, members of both teams joined arms at centre court and observed a 42-second moment of silence.
Near the conclusion of those 42 seconds, the crowd began to shout “Take her home! Take her home!”
The attorneys for Griner had anticipated that her guilty plea and expressions of contrition would result in a less sentence.
Blinken told reporters that her conviction “highlights [Washington’s] substantial concern with Russia’s justice system and the Russian government’s use of unjust detentions to achieve its own political agenda by exploiting individuals as political pawns.”
During a visit to Cambodia, Lavrov stated, “We are ready to discuss this issue within the framework of the channel agreed upon by Presidents Putin and Biden.”
If the United States decides to engage in public diplomacy once more, that is their business and I would even go so far as to say it is their problem.
The Kremlin had earlier cautioned the United States against employing “megaphone diplomacy” in the case of Griner, stating that it would hinder efforts to secure a possible swap.
Biden termed Griner’s sentence “inappropriate,” which might open the way for a prisoner swap involving the 31-year-old athlete and a serial Russian arms dealer serving a 25-year sentence in the United States.
The United States has previously offered a “significant offer” to gain the release of Americans arrested in Russia, including Griner and former Marine Paul Whelan, according to Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
‘A serious proposal’
John Kirby, spokesperson for national security at the White House, stated following Griner’s imprisonment that the United States had made a serious proposal to Russia.
He stated, “We urge them to accept it.” They ought to have accepted it weeks ago when we initially presented it.
Kirby provided no additional information regarding the U.S. request.
Washington has proposed exchanging Russian arms dealer Bout for Griner and Whelan, according to sources familiar with the matter who spoke to Reuters.
Russia attempted to add German-incarcerated convicted killer Vadim Krasikov to the proposed trade, a source familiar with the procedures told Reuters.
Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) player, was caught with vape cartridges carrying hashish oil in her luggage on February 17 at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo.
The American athlete said she was wrongfully detained and being exploited as a bargaining chip by Moscow. According to Russian officials, Griner had violated Russian law and should be punished accordingly.
Griner, who had been prescribed medical cannabis in the United States to treat the agony of chronic injuries, said she had packed her vape cartridges by accident while rushing to catch her flight.
She pleaded guilty to the charges against her but said she had no intention of violating Russian law.