The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation confirmed media reports about negotiations with Washington on prisoner exchange. A specific result has not yet been achieved, said on Thursday, July 28, the official representative of the Russian department, Maria Zakharova.
According to her, the issue of mutual exchange of imprisoned citizens of the two countries “was once discussed by the presidents of Russia and the United States”, they instructed the authorized departments to start negotiations on this topic. “At the same time, we proceed from the fact that the interests of both parties should be taken into account during the negotiation process,” Zakharova added. She did not name the specific names of the prisoners.
CNN Reports Biden Administration Offer
The day before, CNN reported that the Joe Biden administration had approached the Russian Federation with a proposal to exchange the convict in the United States. Russian citizen Viktor Bout on two Americans held in Russia – accused of drug smuggling basketball player Brittney Griner and convicted of espionage BorgWarner security director Paul Whelan. According to information obtained by CNN from sources, the exchange of Bout for Whelan and Greiner has been discussed since the beginning of 2022.
Since the plan was supported by the US President, the objections of the Department of Justice, which usually opposes the exchange of prisoners, were overcome, the TV channel further reported.
State Department refuses to release details
Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said on July 27 that a few weeks ago the White House presented Moscow with a “meaningful proposal” on Whelan and Greiner. Blinken indicated that he intends to discuss this issue with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov during a telephone conversation that will take place in the coming days. In turn, US State Department spokesman John Kirby stressed that Washington would not disclose the details of the offer it made to Moscow to release Greiner and Whelan.
Moscow has been demanding extradition for many years former Soviet officer Viktor Bout, who was found guilty of conspiring to kill Americans and US officials, attempting to purchase and sell missiles, and supporting terrorism through collaboration with the Colombian group “Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia”. Viktor Bout, sentenced in 2012 to 25 years in prison, is infamously known as Viktor Bout.