At Abu Dhabi Airport, Russia and the United States confirmed that their successful prisoner swap. According to President Joe Biden, basketball player Brittney Griner has already left for her native country, while Viktor Bout has been handed back over to the Russian government.
The Phoenix Mercury star and the selection return to their home country after spending nearly a year in a Russian prison, according to the news in American basketball.
Griner, 32, was detained upon arrival in Russia in February 2022 after airport officials discovered among her possessions electronic vape cartridges carrying less than one gram of cannabis oil. After Russia’s military participation in Ukraine, there was another high point in relations between Washington and Moscow when she was brought to court. She was convicted guilty of narcotics trafficking in July and given a nine-year prison sentence; the highest sentence possible in this instance was ten years. The United States was unable to demand justice due to the animosity between the two countries, and the idea of exchanging convicts was put out as the only solution. Weeks earlier, when he was moved to a Mordovian prison, things had gotten worse.
The Joe Biden administration was to hand over arms dealer Victor Bout , nicknamed the Merchant of Death , to Russia.
“If this were to take place, it would certainly be a positive sign that all is not lost in US-Russian relations. Perhaps this signal would now also be appropriate, if an agreement could be reached,” said Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Riabkov.
“On December 8, 2022, at the Abu Dhabi airport, the exchange procedure of Russian citizen Viktor Bout for US citizen Brittney Griner, who were serving sentences in US and Russian prisons, respectively, was successfully completed,” the ministry said. of Russian Foreign Affairs on Telegram.
“A few moments ago I spoke with Brittney Griner. She is safe. She is on a plane. She’s on her way home ,” US President Joe Biden tweeted.
Finally, the diplomatic negotiation that had reached a high level of tension and exposure with which Russia did not feel entirely comfortable and had asked for seriousness and less ´media circus´ from the US counterpart, came to fruition.
The last prisoner exchange between Russia and the US occurred last April, when student and former Texas Marine Trevor Reed was exchanged for Russian pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko.