Report: Russia Has Yet To Respond To U.S Prisoner Exchange Offer For Brittney Griner, Paul Whelan
According to National Security Council coordinator John Kirby, Russia has yet to issue a response to the proposal made by the United States back in July for the release of WNBA’s Brittney Griner and U.S Marine Paul Whelan. The Biden administration reportedly offered Russian Arms Dealer Viktor Bout in exchange for both Griner & Whelan. Kirby stated to the media that discussions between the two countries are “still ongoing” during Friday’s White House press briefing.
“We have made a serious offer to get Brittney Griner and Paul Whalen back home,” he said. “The Russians have not responded to that offer. But that doesn’t mean that we’re not still in negotiations.”
When further questioned as to why there appears to be a stalemate in negotiations, Kirby responded by saying that the U.S “might already have a deal” if he knew exactly why and that the question should be directed to the Russian representatives. Kirby spoke bluntly, saying that Griner and Whelan should both be home by now.
“I think that’s a better question put to our Russian colleagues…. We made a serious offer. We want them to accept it, frankly, these two individuals ought to be home anyway, period. But we understand that that’s probably going to have to be the result of the negotiating process, one that we’re willing to participate in honestly and fully, and we’ve been doing that. And we await them to take the offer that’s on the table.”
Kirby made it clear that President Biden is not going to give up on his attempts to bring Griner & Whelan home. He also said that he is confident that this situation is going to “remain at the forefront” of both Biden’s mind, and the mind of the administration team.
“And they’re going to continue to work this as hard as they can,” Kirby added. “We want these two individuals home back where they belong with their families. They should be there already.”
Griner has been detained in Russia since February, after vape cartridges containing cannabis oils were found in her luggage at an airport in Moscow. Griner was charged with smuggling drugs into Russia, a felony that carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. Griner pled guilty to narcotics possession and smuggling charges during her drug trial, acknowledging that the cannabis oils were in her luggage. Griner also stated that she had no criminal intent. Russia sentenced Griner to nine years in a Russian penal colony for smuggling drugs into the country. Griner’s attorney Maria Blagovolina reported days later that the ruling has been appealed.
Paul Whelan has been detained in Russia since 2018 for alleged espionage. Whelan was detained at a Moscow hotel and arrested on espionage charges. Whelan was convicted on the espionage charges in June 2020, and was sentenced to 16 years in prison. U.S officials had deemed Whelan’s trial “unfair.”
FOX News has more HERE.