Nov 18, 2022 - World

Russia says it expects "positive result" in Griner prisoner swap talks

Brittney Griner is escorted into a court hearing outside Moscow on Aug. 2, 2022.

Brittney Griner is escorted into a court hearing outside Moscow on Aug. 2, 2022. Photo: Natalia Kolesnikova/AFP via Getty Images

The Kremlin aims to secure the release of convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout in any prisoner swap with the U.S., a senior Russian official told the news agency Interfax on Friday.

Why it matters: The Biden administration has said the two countries have been in talks about a potential deal to bring home two "wrongfully detained" American citizens in Russia: WBNA star Brittney Griner and Marine Paul Whelan.

Catch up quick: Bout was one of the most wanted men in the world for his arms trafficking over two decades, Reuters reports.

  • Bout was arrested in a sting operation in 2008 and convicted in a U.S. court in 2012 for supplying weapons to a terrorist organization and conspiring to kill Americans. He is currently serving a 25-year prison sentence.

What they're saying: "I want to hope that the prospect not only remains but is being strengthened, and that the moment will come when we will get a concrete agreement," said Sergei Ryabkov, Russia's deputy foreign minister, per Interfax.

  • "The Americans demonstrate some external activity, we work professionally on a special channel designed for this," Ryabkov said.
  • "So far, we have not come to a common denominator, but it is indisputable that Viktor Bout is among those who are being discussed, and we certainly expect a positive result."

Flashback: The Biden administration said in July said the U.S. made a "substantial proposal" to bring home Griner and Whelan.

  • At the time, Russia indicated its interest in including Bout in a potential prisoner swap involving Griner and Whelan, but no deal was reached.

Go deeper... Brittany Griner: What the WNBA star could face in a Russian penal colony

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