Days after WNBA star Brittney Griner was released and returned to the U.S., the Biden Administration made a big statement about Paul Whelan, the retired Marine that is still in Russian custody.
While speaking to CNN, a senior official of the Biden Administration stated the reason why the Russians released Brittney Griner instead of Whelan is because “they have things they want in this world.”
It was further revealed that Moscow officials know that ultimately the two sides will reach a mutually acceptable arrangement. As long as they keep speaking to U.S. officials. “We have shown an openness to talk about that,” the official said about securing the release of Whelan,” the Biden Administration official explained. “Which is actually available to us and gotten only in response to a demand for something not available to us.”
The official reiterated the Russians refused to accept anything that the U.S. has offered in order to secure Whelan’s release. However, the Russians ended up accepting the offer to exchange Brittney Griner for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout. The exchange was notably a “result of negotiations and the research for compromises.”
“In this case, compromises were found,” the official said about Brittney Griner’s exchange. “We do not refuse to continue this work in the future.”
There Were Not Demands Related to the War in Ukraine When it Came to Brittney Griner’s Release
CNN reported that convicted Russian murderer Vadim Krasikov, who is now in German custody, was one of Moscow’s other requests. However, the official did not rule out that’s release has been a continued request.
Demands related to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine did not come up in the negotiations to secure Brittney Griner. It also didn’t come in the attempt to secure Whelan. The official added that the U.S. wouldn’t make concessions on that front, however.
“We’ve obviously thought about why that might be the case” that the Russians didn’t float it, the official said. “And I think we credit it to the fact that we’ve been so crystal clear, so consistent, that it is not for us to negotiate how that horrific situation gets resolved.”
The official then said that if demands actually occur, it is not for bargaining. “Another country’s future is not for bargaining,” they declared. “And the defense of democracy against autocracy is not for bargaining.”
Whelan spoke to CNN on Thursday about the situation. “The President and his team are going to have to look at what they have that is valuable that these people want,” he stated. “And hopefully give it to them, or I’ll be here for a long time.”
However, Whelan’s brother David has a different opinion. “It’s clear that the US government has no concessions that the Russian government will take for Paul Whelan. And so Paul will remain a prisoner until that changes.”