A Russian judge sentenced detained WNBA star Brittney Griner to nine years in prison on drug-related charges stemming from an incident in a Moscow airport back in February. President Joe Biden of the United States and Secretary of State Antony Blinken were among those who spoke out against the severe sentence.
Biden vowed once more to use all of his influence to bring the WNBA star back to his native country. The best way to accomplish this is through a prisoner exchange, which Blinken seems to have made a start on. According to the Associated Press, Russia sent this warning to the United States as interest in the potential swap grows.
The Kremlin stated on Friday that it is willing to discuss the possibility of Brittney Griner, an American basketball player, exchanging places with prisoners, but it sternly cautioned Washington against making the matter public.
While giving the impression that it was amenable to a prisoner exchange with Brittney Griner, Russia made one thing abundantly clear: do not make the situation public.
Last week, Blinken spoke with Sergey Lavrov, the foreign minister of Russia, urging him to consent to a prisoner swap involving Griner and ex-Marine Paul Whelan, who is being held on espionage charges.
According to the Associated Press, US representative Blinken and Russian representative Lavrov both attended an ASEAN meeting. Neither Blinken nor Lavrov made any attempts to contact one another.
That, cоmbined with Russia’s adamant rhetоric regarding the prisоner swap, hardly gives the impressiоn that the negоtiatiоns are оff tо a gооd start. Hоwever, the fact that Russia has indicated a willingness tо hоld even thоse talks is at least encоuraging.
It’s a ray оf hоpe fоr Brittney Griner’s predicament.