Russia still ready to discuss prisoner swaps with Washington, Lavrov says

“Specifically with regard to the subject – people sentenced in Russia and the United States – I have already had the opportunity to say that there is a channel specially agreed by the presidents. And whatever is said in public, this channel retains its relevance”: during a press conference from Cambodia on August 5, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov confirmed his country’s willingness to discuss prisoner exchanges with Washington.

“If the Americans decide to resort to public diplomacy again and make announcements, resounding declarations that they will now take this or that action – that is their business and, I would say, their problem. Because the Americans often do not follow the arrangements according to normal professional work – not only on this subject, but on many others”, nevertheless regretted the head of diplomacy, before insisting that Moscow was ready to discuss prisoner exchanges, “but within the framework of the channel agreed by Presidents Putin and Biden”.

These statements come in a Russian-American context marked, in particular, by the sentencing on August 5 in Russia to nine years of imprisonment of the American female basketball star Brittney Griner for drug trafficking. After the announcement of this judgment, White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre denounced an “abusive detention” of the basketball star. She also said that Washington was “urging” Russia to accept its prisoner swap offer. This, according to AFP, aims to obtain the return to the United States of basketball player Brittney Griner but also of another American national, Paul Whelan, serving a 16-year prison sentence in Russia for espionage.

According to several American media, it would be a question of exchanging against these two American nationals Viktor Bout, a Russian citizen who is serving a 25-year prison sentence in the United States after a conviction for arms trafficking.


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