A senior administration official told CNN on Greener’s birthday that the Biden administration has been communicating with Russia to secure the release of Britney Greenner and Paul Whelan “just within the past few days.” Russian prison.
Back in June, the U.S. first proposed a prisoner swap with Russia — details CNN reported exclusively — and “the conversation has not stalled since then,” the official said.
While discussions between the U.S. and Russia to secure the release of Americans have been “pretty protracted,” the official said the Biden administration has yet to receive a serious counter-offer from Russia.
“We’ve been working hard to try and show various things that could be the basis for a solution to this problem, and each time we’ve made it clear that we haven’t encountered a serious counteroffer,” the official said.
The Russians fought back with “something we can’t control, something we can’t deliver,” they said, without elaborating.
“They’re not unresponsive. I’d say they’ll continue to respond with things they know won’t work or won’t work,” the official said of Russia’s response.
The U.S. has used multiple channels to discuss with the Russians, the official said, with conversations taking place face-to-face, over the phone and “through other modalities.” The U.S. has floated multiple “things that might play a role” ideas to urge the Russians to respond in earnest.
As Griner spent her 32nd birthday in a Russian prison, the official said, “every day is too long” for her to continue being wrongfully detained by Russia.
“I hope you didn’t spend this birthday in a Russian detention facility. I hope you didn’t spend the past few weeks and months there,” the official told Griner. “Every day is too long as far as we are concerned and we will keep working on it until we fix it and get her home. It’s a shame the other side got the vote on this. They are the ones who created this horrible situation “Sadly, they’re something we need to address.”
next week, Griner will appeal her nine-year sentence in a Russian court. It is unclear whether the passage of that court date will support ongoing efforts to bring her home.
“If the various stages of this apparently imperfect system pass and open up the possibility of a real negotiation on the other side, we would welcome that. But the most frank answer is, we don’t know,” the official said.
President Joe Biden said last week that he would consider meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Group of 20 summit in November if he wanted to discuss Greener. Asked if there had been discussions between the U.S. and Russia over a possible meeting with Greener, the official said they would let Biden’s remarks “speak for themselves.”