A senior American diplomat told Russian state-run media that the U.S. was still talking with Moscow about striking a deal to free jailed Americans Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan.
However, Elizabeth Rood, the U.S. chargée d’affaires in Moscow, told the RIA news agency on Monday that the Kremlin had not supplied a “serious response” to any American proposals.
Moscow said some ten days ago it wanted to complete a prisoner swap with the U.S. by returning convicted Russian arms trafficker Viktor Bout for Griner and Whelan.
Rood told RIA that “the Russian Federation has not provided a serious response” to that proposal or to “proposed alternatives.”
In August Griner was convicted of possessing vape canisters that contained 0.702 grams of cannabis oil in her luggage at a Moscow airport. She was taken to a Russian penal colony earlier this month to serve a nine-year sentence.
Whelan was arrested in 2018 and accused of spying. His brother said he was in Moscow for a friend’s wedding and was given a USB drive.
“The Americans are showing some external activity, we are working professionally through a special channel designed for this,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov was quoted as saying by Interfax. “Viktor Bout is among those who are being discussed, and we certainly count on a positive result.”