UNITED STATES: The US has proposed a strategic plan to retrieve its citizens from Russian forces: to coordinate the release of US citizens Paul Whelan and Brittney Griner from Russia’s “wrongful detention”, as per US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken.
Blinken announced on Wednesday that he planned to communicate with Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov in the upcoming days to discuss a grave matter of “top priority” for the US: the release of basketball star Griner and a former marine, Whelan, in exchange for a Russian arms dealer named Viktor Bout.
“We made a substantial proposal to expedite their release several weeks ago. Our governments have communicated about the proposal repeatedly and directly. I’ll use this conversation to follow up personally and, hopefully, to move us closer to a resolution, “Blinken explained to reporters.
“Of course, we want to see those who have been wrongfully detained released and able to return home. At the same time, we must be able to enforce the global norm against arbitrary detentions, “Blinken added.
While the US believes Griner was wrongfully detained on suspicions of drug trafficking by Russia, Whelan was supposedly found guilty of espionage.
To bring these American citizens to safety, the US proposes to return Viktor Bout, a Russian arms dealer famously known as the “Merchant of Death” who was sentenced to 25 years in prison by the US in 2012.
On Thursday, the Kremlin announced that strategic talks of prisoner swap were well underway, but Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said: “a concrete result has not yet been achieved.”
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