The release of WNBA star Brittney Griner from a Moscow-area prison is a priority of President Joe Biden but, apparently, Moscow has other pressing issues on its plate, an aide to President Vladimir Putin said Sunday, reported by USA Today.
“In this tense situation, I think that he (Biden) is thinking first and foremost about the upcoming midterm elections,” said Yury Ushakov on Russian state-run TV. “He keeps emphasizing the need to bring (Griner) back home… However, it’s not the main issue that we are concerned about.”
These past several months, the White House and Kremlin have seemingly agreed that a prisoner exchange was in the works even naming convicted arms dealer Viktor Bout to be exchanged for Griner, who is now in her ninth month in a Russian prison for possessing cannabis oil when entering a Moscow airport to finish up her seventh season with Russia’s UMMC Yekaterinburg team.
Russia’s War Takes Priority
In addition to the ongoing and upscaling war with Ukraine, also in its ninth month, NPR reported Sunday that Russia has opened a criminal investigation after gunmen shot dead 11 people at a military training center near the Ukrainian border as fighting rages in eastern and southern Ukraine.
Biden Will Only Talk to Putin About Griner
Ongoing efforts to arrange a swap seem to have waxed and waned as US-Russia relations deteriorate. Although Biden told CNN’s Jake Tapper this past week that he would he would be willing to speak to Putin at next month’s Group of 20 meeting in Indonesia but only to discuss Griner’s case.
Griner, sentenced on August 4, admitted at her trial that she had less than a gram of cannabis oil in her suitcase that she’d forgotten to remove in her haste to pack for her return trip to Moscow to finish up the basketball season. She was given a nine-year sentence at a penal colony.
Her lawyers intend to appeal that draconian sentence on Oct. 25.
Image and article originally from www.benzinga.com. Read the original article here.