Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov said Friday that his country was ready to discuss a prisoner exchange with the U.S. through a diplomatic channel agreed to by the presidents of both countries. U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken responded by saying that Washington would continue the process after Russia offered to discuss a presidential-level prisoner exchange involving convicted WNBA star Brittney Griner, CNN reported.
About the specific topic of individuals who are convicted in Russia and in the United States... There is a special channel that is agreed upon by the presidents, and no matter what anyone says publicly, that channel remains relevant. If the Americans decide to resort to public diplomacy again and make loud announcements, statements that they are now going to take such and such steps, that's their business, their problem," Lavrov said at a press conference in Cambodia on Friday.
"We are ready to discuss this topic, but within the framework of the channel that was agreed by (Russian and U.S.) presidents Putin and Biden," he said.
That diplomatic channel was agreed during a June 2021 summit between U.S. President Joe Biden and Russia's Vladimir Putin in Geneva, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
In response to a briefing during a meeting of ASEAN foreign ministers in Cambodia, Blinken said: "We have put forward, as you know, a substantial proposal on which Russia should engage with us. And what Foreign Minister Lavrov said this morning and said publicly is that they are willing to engage through the channels that we have set up to do just that. And we will continue to do that."
The secretary of state said that Greener's conviction and sentence to nine years in prison "further exacerbates the injustice against her and her wrongful detention."
Greener's conviction "reveals a very serious concern (in Washington) about the Russian legal system and the Russian government's use of wrongful detention to further its own agenda using individuals as political pawns," Blinken said. "The same goes for Paul Whelan," he added.
On Aug. 4, a Russian court found WNBA star Brittney Griner guilty of drug smuggling and sentenced her to nine years in prison. U.S. President Joe Biden called the sentence "unacceptable.