Washington urges Russia to immediately accept the US prisoner exchange offer. This was stated by White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, reports the Washington Post.
According to her, US President Joe Biden intends to meet on September 16 with relatives of Americans Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan, who are serving prison sentences in Russia , and assure them that Washington is seeking an exchange of convicts with Moscow.
“I would very much like to say that the purpose of this meeting” to inform the families that the Russians have accepted our offer and we are returning their loved ones home, however, this is not what we see in the negotiations at the present time, — said Jean-Pierre.
She added that Russia “should today” accept the US offer to exchange convicts.
In August, the Russian Foreign Ministry confirmed that the United States and Russia were discussing the exchange of several prisoners, including Russian Viktor Bout and Americans Paul Whelan and Brittney Griner.
On July 27, CNN reported on the US offer to Russia to exchange Bout for Griner and Whelan. Two days later, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov discussed a possible exchange. Later, however, the White House called the Russian response frivolous. The Foreign Ministry, in turn, said that negotiations were underway, but there were no concrete results yet.
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Paul Whelan— an American who is serving a 16-year sentence in Russia on charges of espionage. The investigation considers him a career intelligence agent who, before his arrest in 2018, collected secret information in Russia and tried to recruit employees of the FSB and the Ministry of Defense. Whelan pleads not guilty.
Brittney Greiner— American basketball player who played for the Yekaterinburg club “UMMC”. In February, she was detained at Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport with hash oil vape cartridges in her hand luggage. The athlete was convicted under the article on drug smuggling for nine years in prison. Greiner herself admitted that she was carrying drugs, but her lawyers insist that medical cannabis was prescribed to her by a doctor in the United States to relieve chronic pain. On August 15, Greiner's defense appealed the verdict.
Viktor Bout was sentenced in the United States to 25 years in prison on charges of illegal arms trafficking and supporting terrorism.
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