AFP
1 minute read
16 Jun 2021
7:40 pm

Putin hints at ‘compromises’ with US on prisoner exchange

AFP

Moscow could be eyeing the return of a notorious Russian arms dealer imprisoned by the US, Viktor Bout, and a contract pilot and alleged drug trafficker, Konstantin Yaroshenko.

US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin shake hands as they arrive at Villa La Grange in Geneva, for the start of their summit on June 16, 2021. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / POOL / AFP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that he discussed a possible prisoner swap with US counterpart Joe Biden and that “compromises” may be possible.

“President Biden raised this issue… We discussed it, there may be certain compromises,” Putin said.

“The Russian foreign ministry and the US State Department will work in this direction.”

Putin ahead of the summit renewed an offer to swap prisoners in “matters of a humanitarian nature”, after Biden said US citizens detained in Russia would be on the agenda.

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Former US marine Paul Whelan, who in 2020 was jailed by Russia for 16 years for espionage, had urged Biden to arrange an exchange and said in a recent interview he was victim of hostage diplomacy.

Another US citizen, Trevor Reed, was sentenced to nine years in prison in 2020 on charges of assaulting Russian police officers while drunk.

Moscow could be eyeing the return of a notorious Russian arms dealer imprisoned by the United States, Viktor Bout, and a contract pilot and alleged drug trafficker, Konstantin Yaroshenko.

Bout, known as the “Merchant of Death,” is thought to be the inspiration for the title character in the 2005 film “Lord of War” starring Nicholas Cage.

His elderly mother has appealed to both Biden and Putin to negotiate her son’s release so she can see him again while still alive.

Yaroshenko was convicted in 2011 of smuggling drugs into the United States. He was extradited from Liberia in what the Kremlin denounced as a kidnapping.