It seems Russia in on board with the trade for Brittney Griner, but only if they can get one person back in the deal.
The Russian government reportedly requested that Vadim Krasikov, a former colonel in the country’s spy business, be added to the U.S. prisoner exchange for Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan, according to CNN.
It was previously reported that the United States could send Viktor Bout back to Russia in exchange for Griner and Whelan. Bout, a Russian arms dealer, is known as the “Merchant of Death.” In 2011, he was found guilty of conspiring to kill Americans, conspiring to deliver anti-aircraft missiles, and aiding a terrorist organization.
There is also the problem that Krasikov is currently in German custody, having murdered a Chechen fighter in Berlin’s Kleiner Tiergarten in 2019. He was sentenced to life in prison.
But, “underscoring how determined the Biden administration has been to get Griner and Whelan back to the US,” CNN writes, officials did in fact speak with the Germans about including Krasikov in a trade, per a senior German government source. When asked for comment on the situation, a State Department official told CNN that “in order to preserve the best opportunity for a successful outcome, we’re not going to comment publicly on any speculation.”
Whelan was convicted on charges pertaining to alleged espionage in 2020 and sentenced to 16 years in prison. Griner is currently on trial in Russia for drug possession.
ESPN’s T.J. Quinn reported that a verdict and sentence for Griner should come on Aug. 5. Griner already pleaded guilty, but she said there was no criminal intent in bringing cannabis oil to Russia.