Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said today that Moscow is willing to discuss a prisoner exchange involving basketball player Brittney Greiner with Washington through a presidential-level communication channel.
“We are ready to discuss this issue, but only within the (communication) channel agreed by Presidents (Vladimir) Putin and (Joe) Biden,” Lavrov said during a press conference from Cambodia.
“There is a special channel, which has been agreed by the presidents, and despite some public statements, this channel remains completely current,” he continued.
“If the Americans decide to engage in public diplomacy and make loud statements (…), it is their own business and their own problem,” Lavrov added, assuring that Washington “fails” to work “calmly and professionally” way” on many issues.
A Russian court on Thursday sentenced American women’s basketball star Brittney Greiner to nine years in prison for drug smuggling, a heavy sentence that paves the way for a potential prisoner swap between Moscow and Washington.
Last week, the head of US diplomacy, Anthony Blinken, and his counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, held their first talks since the start of Moscow’s offensive in Ukraine.
Blinken said he pressed his counterpart to accept Washington’s “offer” to Moscow to secure the release of Greiner and another American held in Russia, Paul Whelan, who is serving a 16-year sentence for espionage.
According to US media, the proposal is to exchange a famous Russian arms smuggler held in the US, Victor Booth, for Brittney Greiner and Paul Whelan.