MOSCOW ( Associated Press) – The Kremlin said Friday it is open to discussing a possible prisoner swap involving American basketball star Brittany Griner, but warned Washington not to make the matter public.
Griner, a two-time US Olympic champion and WNBA Phoenix Mercury star, has been detained in Russia since February 17 after police found vape cartridges containing cannabis oil in his luggage at the Moscow airport.
A judge on Thursday convicted the 31-year-old athlete of drug possession and trafficking, sentenced him to nine years in prison. The politically charged case comes amid tensions between Moscow and Washington over Russia’s military action in Ukraine.
In an extraordinary move, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken last week spoke with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, urging him to accept a deal under which Griner and Paul Whelan, an American, are jailed for espionage in Russia. will be closed in
Lavrov and Blinken were in Cambodia for a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations on Friday. Blinken did not even look at his Russian counterpart as he took his seat at the East Asia Summit.
Lavrov told reporters that Blinken did not try to contact him when he was attending the ASEAN meeting.
“We were separated by only one person at the discussion table, but I didn’t feel his desire,” he replied when asked about Washington’s statement that Blinken tried to corner Lavrov for a quick conversation in Phnom Penh. Will do
Lavrov noted that Moscow was “up for discussion” on a prisoner swap, but that the issue should only be discussed through a dedicated Russia-US track called by US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin in June. I met in Geneva. 2021.
“If Americans try to engage in public diplomacy again and make a loud statement about their intention to take some measure, that’s their business, I’d even go so far as to say that’s their problem, Lavrov insisted. “Americans often have trouble honoring agreements about quiet, professional work.”
In Moscow, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov made the same comment more harshly, saying, “The United States has already made mistakes in trying to solve these problems through ‘microphone diplomacy’. are not resolved.”