Lavrov says Russia is ready to discuss prisoner swap with US after Griner conviction
The US and Russia have both indicated they would like to hold talks over a prisoner swap after Brittney Griner, an American basketball player was convicted of drug smuggling and sentenced to nine years in prison in Russia. Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, told reporters that the Kremlin is ready to discuss the topic but in the framework of a specific channel that has been discussed and agreed upon by leadership. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said at the same summit that the US will pursue talks with Russia.
The comments from both sides indicate that a negotiation process may accelerate in the next few days. Russian officials requested a former colonel from the country’s domestic spy agency be included in the proposed swap of the arms dealer Viktor Bout for Griner and Paul Whelan. Whelan was convicted on espionage charges by a Russian court in 2020 and has been held by Russia since 2018. The US State Department classifies both Griner and Whelan as wrongfully detained.