Kremlin says Grinerswap must be discussed without publicity

MOSCOW (AP) — The Kremlin said Friday it was free to discuss a potential prisoner exchange involving American basketball star Britney Griner, but strongly cautioned Washington not to make the matter public.

Griner, a two-time US Olympic champion and eight-time All-Star with the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, said vape cartridges containing cannabis oil were found in her luggage by police at a Moscow airport since February 17. Detained in Russia after the announcement.

A judge on Thursday found the 31-year-old athlete guilty of drug possession and smuggling and sentenced him to nine years in prison. The politically charged case comes amid heightened tensions between Moscow and Washington over Russia’s military actions in Ukraine.

US Secretary of State Antony Brinken met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov last week and asked him to accept a deal to release Griner and Paul Whelan, an American imprisoned in Russia on suspicion of spying.

Lavrov and Blinken were in Cambodia on Friday for a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Blinken didn’t even glance at his Russian counterpart taking a seat at the East Asia Summit.

Lavrov told reporters that Brinken did not try to contact him while they were attending the ASEAN meeting.

“Even though we were only one person apart at the discussion table, I didn’t feel his desire to catch me.All my buttons are in place.Quick interaction in Phnom Penh.

Lavrov said the Russian government was “ready to discuss” the exchange of prisoners of war, but the topic was discussed with US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin when they met in Geneva in June 2021. He said discussions should only take place through the dedicated channels Russia and the United States agreed to establish.

“If Americans were to engage in public diplomacy again and try to make loud statements about their intention to take certain measures, I would even say that it was their job and I would say it was their problem.” Lavrov said. Professional work. ”

In Moscow, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov made the same point more harshly, saying, “The United States has already made mistakes and is trying to solve such problems through ‘micro-diplomacy.’ is not resolved to

He also stressed that any discussion of a possible deal should take place through the previously established clandestine channels that Putin and Biden agreed to at their summit last year.

“Such a mechanism exists, but if the debate continues in public, it will raise questions,” Peskov said.

People familiar with the U.S. proposal say it envisages notorious Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout swapping Griner for Wilan. He is serving a 25-year sentence in the United States after being convicted of conspiring to kill a U.S. citizen and providing assistance to a terrorist organization.

The call between Blinken and Lavrov marks the highest level of contact known between Washington and Moscow since Russia sent troops to Ukraine more than five months ago, and the White House released Griner. He stressed the public pressure he faced to

Griner was arrested on his way back to playing for the Russian team from 2014. Brinken said on Friday that her conviction and her sentence “further compound the injustice that has been done against her.”

“This reflects our very serious concerns about the Russian legal system and the Russian government’s use of individuals as political agents and unfair detentions to further its own agenda. It’s in the spotlight,” he said.

On Thursday, Biden condemned the Russian judge’s verdict and ruling as “unacceptable” and said he would continue to work to bring Griner and Whelan home.

Kremlin says Grinerswap must be discussed without publicity

Source link Kremlin says Grinerswap must be discussed without publicity

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