Russia says there is no deal on swapping Griner for gaoled arms trafficker

LONDON: Russia said on Thursday (Jul 28) that negotiations with the United States on exchanging prisoners are ongoing but there is no deal to swap detained US basketball star Brittney Griner for gaoled Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that “so far there are no agreements in this area”.

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova indicated that talks on prisoner exchanges had been going on for some time but without producing a result.

They were responding to comments by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken that Washington had made Moscow a “serious offer” to secure the release of Griner and former US marine Paul Whelan, also detained in Russia.

“The issue of the mutual exchange of Russian and American citizens in detention on the territory of the two countries was at one time discussed by the presidents of Russia and the United States,” Zakharova said, apparently referring to conversations pre-dating Russia’s Feb 24 invasion of Ukraine.

“They gave instructions to the relevant authorised structures to carry out negotiations. These are being conducted by the competent departments. A concrete result has not yet been achieved.”

Negotiations would need to take into account the interests of both sides, she said.

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