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Russia in talks with US to exchange prisoners, says Kremlin

WorldRussiaRussia in talks with US to exchange prisoners, says Kremlin

The Kremlin has made a confirmation that Russia is in talks with the United States to exchange prisoners held by each nation following the United States Secretary disclosed a “substantial proposal” for a possible swap.

On Wednesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that Washington made the proposal “weeks ago” to facilitate the release of basketball star Brittney Griner and former Marine Paul Whelan. As per reports, the Biden administration has offered to exchange Griner & Whelan for convicted arms trafficker Viktor Bout.

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Meanwhile, during the first indirect public confirmation of the existence of the bilateral talks, President Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, “A concrete result has not yet been reached.”

As per the statement issued by Russia’s Foreign Ministry on Thursday that President Vladimir Putin and U.S. counterpart Joe Biden had discussed the possible exchange “at some point” in the future, ordering their respective officials to conduct negotiations.

“They’re ongoing. Nothing has been achieved yet,” the ministry’s spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a statement.

Griner is currently facing up to 10 years in Russian prison for drug smuggling, a crime she has pleaded guilty to but said she did not commit intentionally.

Whelan, who is serving a 16-year prison sentence on espionage charges, has repeatedly maintained that he is innocent.

Bout, 55, is the highest-profile Russian prisoner serving time in the U.S. He inspired the 2005 arms smuggling movie “Lord of War” starring Nicolas Cage.

Bout’s wife Alla said on Wednesday the gun runner knew nothing about the possible exchange.

The United States and Russia previously carried out one prisoner swap in the heat of the Ukraine war, with Washington exchanging former U.S. Marine Trevor Reed for convicted drug smuggler Konstantin Yaroshenko in April.

 

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