Jul 28, 2022 - World

Russia: No deal reached on release of Griner and Whelan

Brittney Griner

Brittney Griner sits inside a defendants' cage before a hearing at the Khimki Court, outside Moscow on July 27. Photo: Alexander Zemlianichenko/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

The Kremlin warned Thursday that no agreement with the U.S. has been reached to secure the release of WNBA star Brittney Griner and former Marine Paul Whelan.

Driving the news: The update comes a day after Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced on Wednesday that the Biden administration had made a "substantial proposal" weeks ago to bring home the two "wrongfully detained" Americans.

  • "Our governments have communicated repeatedly and directly on that proposal," Blinken said Wednesday, though he did not offer specifics as to the terms. Blinken added that he plans to speak with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov "in the coming days."

The big picture: A potential deal could see the U.S. offer to exchange convicted Russian arms trafficker Viktor Bout for Griner and Whelan's release, according to CNN.

  • Bout is currently serving a 25-year prison sentence in Illinois for supplying weapons to a terrorist organization and conspiring to kill Americans, the Washington Post reported.

What they're saying: “There are no agreements yet which are finalized,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Thursday, per the Post.

  • Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova echoed Peskov, telling reporters Thursday that no “concrete result” has been reached in the negotiations, the Post reported.
  • While Zakharova did not comment on the potential exchange of Bout for Griner and Whelan, she underscored that Russia's interests had to be taken into account, as well.

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