Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Friday that a call to discuss a prisoner exchange with the United States to free basketball player Brittney Griner would be scheduled between the parties in the coming days.
The US government made an official proposal to the Russians last Wednesday, signed by President Joe Biden, which involved exchanging arms dealer Viktor Bout for Griner and Paul Whelan, a former US sailor arrested on suspicion of spying in 2018. .
Brittney Griner — Photo: The Washington Post via Getty Images
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday that the proposal was already on the table. The two sides have not spoken since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began on February 24.
Brittney was arrested for drug possession while carrying vape pods containing marijuana. According to the athlete, she uses the substances to treat pain and injuries. If convicted, Brittney Griner could face 10 years in prison in Russia.
Viktor Bout was sentenced to 25 years in a US federal prison for “conspiring to sell guns to people who want to kill Americans”. The Russian government points to political motivation in condemning the “Merchant of Death”, as he is known.
In April, the two countries already agreed to an exchange of prisoners. Trevor Reed, a former US sailor, and Konstantin Yaroshenko, a Russian pilot convicted of cocaine trafficking, were released.