October 18, 2022 Russia-Ukraine News

The Biden administration has had communications with Russia as part of ongoing efforts to secure the release of Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan “as recently as the past few days,” a senior administration official said, speaking to to CNN on Griner’s birthday, which she will spend in Russian prison.

The United States first put a prisoner swap offer on the table with Russia in June — the details of which CNN exclusively reported — and “conversations haven’t been static since then, the official said. responsible.

Despite ‘pretty persistent’ pace of talks between US and Russia to secure Americans’ release, official says Biden administration has yet to receive a serious counter-offer from Russia .

“We’ve worked hard to try to demonstrate the kinds of things that may well be the basis for solving this problem and each time we’ve explained that there hasn’t been a serious counter-offer,” the official said.

They said the Russians responded with “something not in our control, not in our ability to deliver”, but did not go into further detail.

“They are not insensitive. I would say they keep responding with something they know is not feasible or available,” the official said of the Russian response.

The official said the United States used multiple channels to engage with the Russians and conversations took place both in person, over the phone and “in other forms.” The United States has dangled multiple ideas of “things that might be at stake” to induce the Russians to react seriously.

As Griner spent her 32nd birthday in a Russian prison, the official said “every day is too long” for her to remain wrongfully detained by Russia.

“I would like you not to spend this anniversary in Russian detention. I wish you wouldn’t spend the weeks and months there,” the official said, speaking to Griner. “As far as we are concerned, every day is too long and we will continue to work until we solve it and bring her home. Unfortunately, the other side gets a vote on this. They are the ones who created this horrible situation. They are the ones we unfortunately have to deal with to solve it.

Next week, Griner will appeal his nine-year prison sentence in a Russian court. It is unclear whether the passing of this court date will bolster ongoing efforts to bring her home.

“To the extent that the various phases of this decidedly flawed system pass and open the possibility for the other side of real negotiations, we would welcome it. But the most blunt answer is that we don’t know,” the official said.

President Joe Biden said last week that he would consider meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G-20 in November if he wanted to discuss Griner. When asked if there had been any discussions between the United States and Russia about this possible Griner meeting, the official said they would let Biden’s remarks “speak for themselves. “.

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