Russia jumped on Friday less than 24 hours after WNBA star Brittney Griner was sentenced to nine years in prison for drug possession to offer Washington immediate prisoner exchanges.
“We are ready to discuss this issue, but within the channel agreed upon by Presidents Putin and Biden,” Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said. according AFP, although a caveat was added to the proposal from Moscow.
“If the Americans decide to once again resort to public diplomacy … that’s their business and I would say it’s their problem.”
As Breitbart News reported, a judge in Russia convicted American basketball star Griner of drug possession and trafficking on Thursday and sentenced her to nine years in prison.
The Kremlin has previously warned the United States against resorting to “loudpeak diplomacy” in Griner’s case, saying it could only derail efforts to secure a possible exchange.
A proposal for the diplomatic exchange would see the Biden administration offer convicted Russian Kremlin arms dealer Victor Bout, who had been sentenced to 25 years in US prison, in exchange for Griner and corporate security executive Paul Whelan, the who had been jailed in Russia for alleged espionage which he denies.
John Kirby, the White House national security spokesman, told reporters that President Joe Biden personally signed the deal to release Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, and Whelan. “The president and his team are willing to take extraordinary measures to bring them home,” Kirby said.
Former President Donald Trump shot down that proposal, calling it “potentially ill-advised.”
Former President Donald Trump has shot down a proposed plan to swap WNBA player Brittney Griner for jailed Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, calling her “potentially spoiled.” https://t.co/9heJoAtdcg
— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) August 1, 2022
Griner was arrested on February 17 in Sheremetyevo, Moscow, with vaping cartridges containing hashish oil in her luggage.
Griner, who was prescribed medical cannabis in the United States to relieve pain from chronic injuries, said she made an honest mistake by accidentally packing it as she rushed to catch her flight. She pleaded guilty to the changes against her but insisted she did not intend to break Russian law.
Cannabis is illegal in Russia for both medicinal and recreational purposes.