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HomeWorldRussia ready to discuss swap with US after Griner goes to jail
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Russia ready to discuss swap with US after Griner goes to jail

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Russia ready to discuss swap with US after Griner goes to jail

American basketball player Brittany Griner, who was detained at Moscow Sheremetyevo Airport and later charged with illegal possession of cannabis, after a court ruling in Khimki outside Moscow, Russia, on August 4, 2022, at the defendant's cage. sits inside.  - Reuters
American basketball player Brittany Griner, who was detained at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport and later charged with illegal possession of cannabis, after a court ruling in Khimki outside Moscow, Russia, on August 4, 2022, as defendant. Sits inside the cage. – Reuters
  • The Kremlin warned the US against “megaphone diplomacy”.
  • White House says swap proposal is serious.
  • Biden calls the Griner sentence “unacceptable.”

MOSCOW: Russia on Friday said it was ready to discuss a prisoner swap privately with the United States, a day after a Russian court convicted American basketball star Brittany Griner on nine counts of drugs. imprisoned for years.

The case against Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) star, plunged her into a geopolitical crisis after Russia sent troops to Ukraine on February 24.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said President Vladimir Putin and US President Joe Biden had previously agreed on a diplomatic channel that should be used to discuss potential prisoner exchanges.

“We are ready to discuss this topic, but within the framework of the channel that was agreed upon by President Putin and Biden,” Lavrov said during a visit to Cambodia.

“If Americans decide to once again resort to public diplomacy… that’s their business and I’d even go as far as to say that’s their problem.”

We. Foreign Minister Antony Blinken said Washington was ready to engage with Moscow through established diplomatic channels. He said Griner’s sentence exposed Russia’s wrongful detention and exacerbated the injustice meted out to him.

The Kremlin has remained silent on the possibility of a swap, saying that if prisoner exchanges were discussed in the media, they would never happen.

“The Americans have already made that mistake, suddenly deciding to use megaphone diplomacy to resolve these issues,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

“That’s not how they are resolved.”

Peskov declined to comment on the court’s decision on Griner. Asked if he could be pardoned, he said the pardon procedure was codified in Russian laws.

Griner’s sentence – which Biden called “unacceptable” – could pave the way for a prisoner swap that would involve a 31-year-old athlete serving a 25-year prison sentence in the United States and a prolific Russian arms dealer.

The United States has already called Blinken a “substantial offer” to secure the release of Americans detained in Russia, including Griner and former Marine Paul Whelan.

‘A serious proposal’

White House national security spokesman John Kirby said after Griner’s sentencing that the US had made a serious offer to Russia.

“We urge them to accept it,” he said. “They should have acknowledged it weeks ago when we first made it.”

Kirby did not provide further details about the US offer.

Sources familiar with the situation told Reuters that Washington has offered Russian arms smuggler Viktor Bout an exchange for Griner and Whelan.

Russia was trying to add convicted murderer Vadim Kasyakov, imprisoned in Germany, to the proposed swap, a source familiar with the proceedings told Reuters.

Russia and the United States staged a prisoner swap in April, trading former Marine Trevor Reid for Russian pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko, who was serving a 20-year sentence in the United States.

Griner was arrested on February 17 at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport with vape cartridges containing hashish oil in his luggage.

The United States argued that he was unfairly detained and was being used by Moscow as a political bargaining chip. Russian officials rejected the US claim, saying Griner broke Russian law and that justice should be done accordingly.

Griner, who was prescribed medical cannabis in the United States to relieve pain from chronic injuries, said she had made an honest mistake by inadvertently packing her vape cartridges as she ran for her flight.

He pleaded guilty to the changes against him but insisted that he did not intend to break Russian law.

Cannabis is illegal in Russia for both medicinal and recreational purposes.

Russia ready to discuss swap with US after Griner goes to jail

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