Russia said on Thursday that it has not reached an agreement with the United States to exchange arrested American basketball star Brittney Griner and a former marine for a convicted Russian accused by prosecutors of being one of the world’s most prolific weapons traffickers.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the US has made a “substantial offer” to Russia to free American nationals detained in Russia, and a source stated that Washington was prepared to trade convicted weapons trafficker Viktor Bout, dubbed the “Merchant of Death.” 

Dmitry Peskov, a Kremlin spokesperson, expressed astonishment at Blinken’s public statements. Russia has consistently warned Washington that such conversations should take place in secret.

“So far there are no agreements in this area,” Peskov told reporters in Moscow. “When discussing such topics, you don’t conduct information attacks.”

According to Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova, negotiations on prisoner swaps have been ongoing for some time but have yielded no results.

Families of hostages and prisoners have increased pressure on US President Joe Biden, most notably in the case of Griner, a two-time Olympic medallist who has been imprisoned since February. This might explain Washington’s haste to provide public pronouncements about the talks.

Source: Reuters

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