Russia is ‘ready’ to hold talks about a prisoner exchange with Washington at the presidential level, its foreign minister stated on Friday, a day following the drug conviction of U.S. basketball star Brittney Griner.
During a visit to Cambodia, Sergei Lavrov said, “We are ready to talk about this subject, but only within the framework of the medium of communication which has been established by presidents Putin and Biden.”
He said, “There is a special channel established by the presidents and despite certain public declarations, it is still functional.”
“If the Americans again decide to engage in public diplomacy and make thundering declarations… that’s their business and their problem,” he said, adding that Washington “can’t” work “in a professional and calm manner.”
Lavrov stated a day after a Russian court sentenced Griner to nine years in a penal colony on a drug smuggling charge.
The United States will “pursue” Russia’s latest offer to discuss at the presidential level a prisoner swap involving Griner, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Friday.
“[Russian] Foreign Minister Lavrov said this morning… that they are prepared to engage” on a swap for the detained American, Blinken said at a foreign ministers’ meeting in Cambodia. “And we’ll be pursuing that.”
The arrest and sentencing highlighted Moscow’s “use of wrongful detentions to advance its own agenda,” Blinken added, slamming the use of “individuals as political pawns.”