Russia ready to discuss prisoner swap with US after Griner sentencing

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Russia ready to discuss prisoner swap with US after Griner sentencing

Russia is ready to talk about prisoner swaps with the United States through an existing diplomatic channel, a Russian court sentenced Brittney Griner to nine years in prison for a drug offense.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart Joe Biden had agreed on a diplomatic channel that should be used to discuss such matters.

We are prepared to discuss this topic, but within the framework of the channel that Presidents Putin and Biden agreed upon, if the Americans resort to public diplomacy that is their business and I would even say that it is their problem.

Lavrov said during a visit to Cambodia that they were ready to discuss this topic, but within the framework of the channel agreed upon by Presidents Putin and Biden.

If the Americans are allowed to resort to public diplomacy again, that is their business and I would even say that it is their problem. The Kremlin warned the United States against turning to megaphone diplomacy in the case of Griner, saying it could only derail efforts to secure a potential swap.

ALSO READ: Russia sentences Griner to 9 years in prison, US Govt calls for his release.

Biden called the sentence of Griner unacceptable and could lead to a prisoner swap that would include the 31-year-old athlete and a prolific Russian arms dealer serving a 25-year prison term in the United States.

The United States has already made a substantial offer to secure the release of Americans held in Russia, including Griner and former Marine Paul Whelan, according to Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

National security spokesman John Kirby said after Griner sentencing that the United States had made Russia a serious proposal.

He said they urge them to accept it. They should have accepted it weeks ago when we first made it. WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner is escorted from a court room after her last words in Khimki, just outside Moscow, Russia on August 4, 2022. ALEXANDER ZEMLIANICHENKO AP Kirby did not provide further details on the US proposal.

Sources familiar with the situation told Reuters that Washington has offered to exchange Russian arms trafficker Bout for Griner and Whelan.

Russia had tried to add convicted murderer Vadim Krasikov, who was imprisoned in Germany, to the proposed swap, a source familiar with the proceedings told Reuters.

Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and women's National Basketball Association WNBA star, was arrested on February 17 in Moscow's Sheremetyevo with vape cartridges containing hashish oil in her luggage.

The United States argued that she was wrongly detained and used by Moscow as a political bargaining chip. Russian officials dismissed the US claims, saying Griner had broken Russian law and should be judged accordingly.

Griner, who had been prescribed medical cannabis in the United States to relieve pain from chronic injuries, said she had made an honest mistake by inadvertently packing her vape cartridges as she rushed to make her flight.

READ MORE: Russia says the US has not offered to resume nuclear treaty talks.

She pled guilty to the changes against her but insisted that she did not intend to break Russian law.

In Russia, cannabis is illegal for both medicinal and recreational purposes.