“Whether it can create a basis for dialogue with the United States or not is a separate issue,” the leader said. “We are not tasked with moving from these talks to anything else, but they create a certain atmosphere.”
Despite securing Griner’s release, the U.S. has failed to secure a release for Paul Whelan, Michigan’s director of corporate security and a former U.S. Marine who has been imprisoned in Russia since December 2018 on false espionage charges.
“I don’t understand why I’m still sitting here,” Whelan said as he drove home to Griner on Thursday.
“I am deeply saddened that more was not done to free me, especially as it is approaching the fourth anniversary of my arrest.” A 53-year-old man told CNN about this in a phone conversation.
“I was arrested for a crime that never happened”– he added. “I don’t understand why I’m sitting here.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that it was the Russian and American intelligence agencies that agreed to replace Bout with Griner. The deal was sharply criticized in America, as Biden’s team outperformed their Russian counterparts.
“This has no impact on the general state of bilateral relations, which looks sad,” Peskov said in a televised speech, adding that “if necessary, the special services can continue their work.”
Known as the “Merchant of Death,” Booth was in U.S. custody following a 2008 Drug Enforcement Administration sting operation in Thailand.
After his release, Bout said he still had trouble controlling his emotions and accused the West of trying to destroy Russia.
“The West believes that when the Soviet Union began to fall apart, it failed to finish us off,” he said. “Our efforts to live independently, to be an independent country, is a blow to them.”
Early Friday morning, the corporate jet carrying Griner landed in San Antonio and was flown to Brooke Army Medical Center for medical evaluation.