According to Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Russia is ready to discuss with Washington a prisoner swap for US basketball player Brittney Griner, who was convicted on Thursday. Moscow is “ready to talk about the issue,” Lavrov said at a press conference during a visit to Cambodia.
However, a direct communication channel between Presidents Vladimir Putin and Joe Biden, which had been agreed between the two, must be maintained. There is “a special channel” that has been agreed between the heads of state, Lavrov said. “Despite certain public statements” this continues to exist.
Griner was sentenced to nine years in prison on Thursday by a Russian court for illegal drug possession. The 31-year-old has been in custody since mid-February this year after so-called vape cartridges and hashish oil were found on her at Sheremetyevo Airport.
It is said to have been 0.5 grams. This was ruled as illegal drug possession and attempted smuggling. The court saw no mitigating circumstances. Griner had pleaded guilty.
The US government had accused Moscow of a politically motivated process from the start. Griner could be released if Moscow and Washington, despite their deep political differences, agree on an exchange of prisoners.