To free Brittney Griner, the United States has made an offer to Russia
Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced on Wednesday that the United States has presented a deal to Russia in order to bring back WNBA star Brittney Griner and another imprisoned American, Paul Whelan. According to Blinken, he intends to speak with his Russian colleague for the first time since before Russia invaded Ukraine.
Griner, who was arrested in February at a Moscow airport on drug-related allegations and testified in her trial on Wednesday, was the first person the United States government had publicly revealed any tangible action it had taken to gain her release.
He did not go into detail about the potential settlement, which was put forth weeks ago, and it is not apparent if Russia will be willing to free the American citizens.
The US, according to Blinken, wants a response from Moscow on this. Viktor Bout, the Russian arms dealer previously known as the “Merchant of Death,” was sentenced in 2012 to 25 years in jail on charges of illegally selling millions of dollars in weapons. Russia has shown an interest in his release for a long time.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, according to Blinken, had been contacted about a phone call. On Wednesday, the United States requested a phone call with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in order to get an answer on the offer of a prisoner exchange, according to US sources.
This would be the first time that Blinken and Lavrov have spoken since Feb. 15, the day before Russia invaded Ukraine. At the same time, the UN’s Blinken said he will warn Lavrov about Russian intentions to annexe parts of eastern and southern Ukraine if Russia does not comply with a UN-mediated plan to release tonnes of Ukrainian grain from storage.
On espionage allegations, Whelan was sentenced in 2020 to 16 years in prison by a federal judge in Michigan. It is clear that he and his family maintain their innocence. U.S. officials have slammed the accusations as untrue.