Russia ‘digging trenches 40 miles behind frontline’ as it prioritises defence
Russia is hopeful it can reach an agreement with the United States to return notorious Russian arms trafficker Viktor Bout in a prisoner swap, it said on Friday, after US basketball star Brittney Griner was transferred to a penal colony.
“I would like to hope that the prospect [of an exchange] is not only still a topical issue, but that it is being strengthened, and the moment comes when we get a concrete agreement,” Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told reporters in Moscow, according to state news agency RIA Novosti.
Ms Griner was arrested at a Moscow airport in February and handed nine years in prison for possessing vape cartridges with a small quantity of cannabis oil.
Her lawyers confirmed on Thursday she had been transferred to a penal colony in the central region of Mordovia to serve out her sentence.
Analysts believe that Griner could be traded for Bout, who is serving 25 years in prison on a 2012 conviction.
Another American jailed in Russia, retired US Marine Paul Whelan, is also slated for a possible exchange, observers say.