President Joe Biden and his administration sent an offer to hostile Russia in exchange for two Americans being held by the oligarchy.
According to a source inside the White House, the Biden administration offered arms trafficker Viktor Bout in exchange for WNBA player Brittney Griner and former US military Paul Whelan.
The offer, according to the source, was made last month, reports CNN.
John Kirby told the press during Wednesday’s press conference: “President Biden has been clear about the need to bring home every American who was held hostage or wrongfully detained abroad. And that includes, of course, Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan. A month ago, President Biden directed his national security team to pursue every avenue to bring Brittany home safely to a family or friends or loved ones or teammates.”
“The US government continues to work aggressively pursuing every avenue to make that happen,” Kirby said. “Now as part of those efforts, we made a substantial offer to secure the release of Paul Whelan and Brittany Reiner and to bring them home, just as Secretary Blinken mentioned earlier,” he said, according to The Post Millennial.
“I would add that a high-level administration official, Deputy Homeland Security Adviser Josh skelter spoke today reached out and sorry today to both the Whelan and Griner families ahead of Secretary Blinken’s comments, and he’s going to be having conversations with them later today and tomorrow as we arrange for them to connect.”
“The details of it are best left between us and our Russian counterparts,” he said.
Sources close to the matter say that a trade Bout for Whelan and Griner from the President after discussions that had gone on since early this year. It also goes against the Department of Justice’s position which does no approve of prisoner trades.
“We communicated a substantial offer that we believe could be successful based on a history of conversations with the Russians,” a senior administration official told CNN Wednesday. “We communicated that a number of weeks ago, in June.”
“It takes two to tango. We start all negotiations to bring home Americans held hostage or wrongfully detained with a bad actor on the other side. We start all of these with somebody who has taken a human being American and treated them as a bargaining chip,” said the official.
“So in some ways, it’s not surprising, even if it’s disheartening, when those same actors don’t necessarily respond directly to our offers, don’t engage constructively in negotiations.”
Whelan has been jailed since 2018 on accusations of espionage. Griner was jailed in February for drug possession.
Russia has not played nice in its dealing of Griner, saying specifically that the WNBA player broke the rules and that she should’ve shown respect for Russia’s laws.
“If a US citizen was taken in connection with the fact that she was smuggling drugs, and she does not deny this, then this should be commensurate with our Russian, local laws, and not with those adopted in San Francisco, New York and Washington,” said Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova.
“You understand, if drugs are legalized in the United States, in a number of states, and this is done for a long time, and now the whole country will become drug-addicted, this does not mean that all other countries are following the same path,” Zakharova continued.