Biden may meet Putin – but only if Griner is freed. (Getty)
President Biden will only considering a meeting with Vladimir Putin if the Russian president is willing to discuss the release of basketball star Brittney Griner.
In a recent press briefing, White House press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre, said that Biden has “no intention” of meeting with Putin at an G-20 Summit.
In relation to Brittney Griner, Jean Pierre added: “The Russians need to take the serious offer that we put forward on the table, or make a serious counter-offer to negotiate, but in good faith”.
Biden’s administration has previously offered to exchange convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout for the release of the two-time Olympic gold medallist.
As part of the proposed deal, Paul Whelan, a former US Marine who has been detained in Russia since 2018 on espionage charges, would also be released.
In a recent interview Biden told CNN’s Jake Tapper: “I have no intention of meeting with him.
“But for example, if he came to me at the G-20 and said, ‘I want to talk about the release of Griner,’ I’d meet with him. I mean, it would depend.”
Brittney Griner’s February arrest follows vape cartridges containing cannabis oil being found in her luggage at a Moscow airport.
In July, at a lower Russian court Griner pleaded guilty, but said she had inadvertently packed the cartridges in haste and that she had no criminal intent.
The eight-time WNBA All-Star was convicted in Russia on 4 August and was sentenced to nine years in prison and given a fine of one million rubles.
Brittney Griner will have her appeal against the prison sentence heard by a Russian court on 25 October. It comes as increasing pressure on the US to secure Griner’s release mounts.
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