Russia announced Friday that it is “ready to discuss” a prisoner exchange with Washington at the presidential level, a day after thatAmerican basketball star Britney Grenier.
Despite the escalating tensions between Russia and the United States since the launch ofFormer Cold War foes seemed to be close to a new prisoner exchange.
The White House urged Russia to accept its offer of a deal to release Grenier and former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan, who was.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday that Moscow was ready to discuss the matter.
“We are ready to discuss this issue, but only within the framework of the (communication) channel established by Presidents Putin and Biden,” Lavrov said at a press conference during a visit to Cambodia.
“There is a special channel set up by the presidents, and despite some public statements, it is still operating,” he added.
US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, whoLast Friday, Washington said Washington would “continue” talks with Russia.
He also said that Grenier’s conviction highlighted “the Russian government’s use of unlawful arrests to advance its own agenda of using individuals as political tools.”
NBA player Grenier was sentenced to nine years in prison in a Russian penal colony Thursday and fined 1 million rubles ($16,590) for possession and drug trafficking.
The two-time basketball gold medalist and women’s National Basketball Association champion was detained at Moscow airport in February after she was found carrying e-cigarette cartridges with cannabis oil in her luggage.
The Phoenix Mercury player was coming to Russia to play basketball with UMMC Ekaterinburg during the downturn in the US – a common path for American superstars seeking an extra income.
GreinerBut she said she had no intention of breaking the law or using the substance banned in Russia.
“I want the court to understand that it was an outright mistake I made while rushing, under pressure, trying to recover from post-Covid and trying to get back on my team,” Greiner said in her final statement before the sentencing.
Greiner testified that she obtained permission from an American doctor to use medicinal cannabis to relieve pain from her many injuries, and she never failed a drug test.
Medical marijuana is not allowed in Russia.
Griner’s legal team said they intended to appeal the “unreasonable” ruling.
President Biden called Grener’s conviction “unacceptable” and said Washington would “work tirelessly” to secure her release.
Blinken said Washington had made a “substantial proposal” to exchange Grenier and Whelan.
The most famous Russian prisoner in the United States isa 55-year-old arms dealer, nicknamed “The Merchant of Death”, is serving 25 years in prison.
There is no official confirmation that Washington has offered to exchange him.
Butt’s wife, Ala, has expressed sympathy for the Greiner family, saying she hopes her husband and American athlete can come home.
“Sympathy has neither nationality nor nationality, it is a universal human emotion,” she told RIA Novosti, a Russian news agency, expressing hope that “Russia and the United States will come to an agreement.”
Moscow and Washington have already conducted one prisoner exchange since the start of Moscow’s attack on Ukraine.
In April, WashingtonConvicted drug smuggler Konstantin Yaroshenko.
inOf Griner who was delivered to the White House last month, the WNBA player wrote how terrified she could be imprisoned in Russia “forever.”
Greiner’s wife, Cheryl, told CBS Mornings that when she read the letter, she felt the fear Greiner was experiencing.
Cheryl said, “She’s probably the strongest person I know, so she doesn’t say words like that lightly. It means she’s really terrified that she might never see us again. You know, I share the same feelings.”