According to the US Secretary of State, the Biden administration has offered a “substantial offer” to return two American detainees to the US from Russia.
According to reports, Moscow is reportedly interested in exchanging the Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout for basketball player Brittney Griner.
Secretary Antony Blinken promised to bring up the issue during a phone discussion with Russia’s foreign minister the following week.
Since the beginning of the conflict in Ukraine, Mr. Blinken and Sergei Lavrov have not spoken.
Mr. Blinken stated at a press conference at the State Department that he was unable to provide specifics on the proposed swap.
CNN reports that the US is interested in exchanging Bout for Ms. Griner and fellow American prisoner Paul Whelan.
A settlement like that would be the US government’s first official step toward Ms. Griner’s release.
The 31-year-old has been detained since February after it was claimed that airport security in Moscow discovered cannabis oil in her luggage while she was traveling back to the US from playing in Russia.
Ms. Griner testified at her drug possession trial on Wednesday that she was forced to sign paperwork but no one explained anything to her.
She further alleged that during the first several hours of her arrest, neither a description of her rights nor access to a lawyer was provided, leaving her with little choice except to use a phone translation software to speak.
The two-time Olympic gold medalist entered a guilty plea to the drug allegations brought against her, but she insisted that she had packed her luggage in a hurry and had not intentionally broken the law.
“I still don’t understand to this day how [the vape cartridges] ended up in my bags,” Ms. Griner said. “With them being accidentally in my bags, I take responsibility, but I did not intend to smuggle or plan to smuggle anything into Russia.”