Washington – Americans Britney Greiner And the Paul Whelan They may be released from their cells in Russian prisons by the end of this year, former US ambassador to the United Nations Bill Richardson said Sunday after a visit to Moscow last month.
“I am cautiously optimistic about the Greiner-Wheeler negotiations,” Richardson told CNN’s State of the Union, misnaming the former US Marine who served time as an accused spy. I am cautiously optimistic. I think it would be a two-for-two deal.”
Richardson added that while in Moscow, he met “high-ranking Russian officials, and individuals close to the president.” [Vladimir] Put it in.”
“I had the feeling that the Russian officials I met with, and who I’ve known over the years, were ready to talk,” he told CNN reporter Jake Tapper. “I get a good sense of the Russians – the vibrations – but I’m not a government official.”
“You say you’re an optimist. Do you think you can get Britney Greiner and Paul Whelan out by the end of the year, for example?” Taber asked at one point.
“I think so,” replied Richardson, who later cautioned that he was “only giving you my assessment after two visits to Russia on behalf of the American hostages.”
Greiner, an eight-star center for the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury and a two-time Olympic gold medalist, was sentenced to nine years in prison in Russia Aug. 6 after pleading guilty to drug possession after police found e-cigarette cartridges containing oil. cannabis in it. Baggage February 17 at the airport in Moscow.
Although Griner has set a court date for October 25 to appeal Russian officials, such as Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, said in the sentencing against her that they are open to a possible prisoner exchange deal.
Whelan, who holds American, British, Canadian and Irish citizenship, is serving a 16-year prison sentence after being convicted of espionage, a charge he denies.
Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said in July that the Biden administration had made a “substantial offer” in an effort to bring Greiner and Whelan home. While he did not go into details of the offer, reports at the time indicated that Washington offered to release the notorious Russian Arms dealer Victor Bout versus the Americans.
Butt is serving a 25-year prison sentence in the United States and has been dubbed “The Merchant of Death “. His possible release will come at a critical point as Russia struggles to keep its army equipped for nearly eight months into its war on Ukraine.
Richardson did not specify any other Russians who might be released as part of a possible trade.
Help Richardson version lock From US detainees before, including April Veteran Warrior Trevor Reid Appears In exchange for the Russian pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko, who was serving a long sentence in America for cocaine smuggling.
The Biden administration has publicly distanced itself from Richardson’s efforts, with National Security Council spokesman John Kirby saying last month that “ordinary citizens shouldn’t be in Moscow at all right now.”
“Look, we share Mr. Richardson’s desire to see Britney Greiner and Paul Whelan at home with their families and teammates, where she belongs and where she belongs,” Kirby told CNN on September 14. In doing so through government channels. This is the proper way to do it.”
However, the former New Mexico governor told CNN on Sunday that he “coordinated as best he could” with the White House.
“I don’t work with them. And I think a little misunderstanding has been cleared up. But there are a lot of nervous Nellis in government who think they can know everything, and that’s not the case,” Richardson said, adding later, “So, I’ll continue with those efforts. “.