President Biden will not meet with Vladimir Putin at the G-20 Summit in November unless Putin is willing to discuss the release of out WNBA star Brittney Griner.
Griner has been in Russian custody since February, when she was arrested at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport for possessing less than a gram of cannabis oil in two vape cartridges. She pled guilty but said in court that she accidentally packed the two cartridges before her flight.
A Russian court then sentenced her to nine years in prison. Her trial has been regarded by many observers as an attack on the U.S. for its opposition to the invasion of Ukraine. The ruling wasn’t surprising to many since defendants rarely get acquitted in Russia. Griner’s appeal will be heard by a court on October 25.
Get the Daily Brief
The news you care about, reported on by the people who care about you:
At a recent press briefing, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said that Biden “has no intention” of meeting with Putin at the G-20 Summit and that, in regards to Griner, “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.”
The Biden Administration has offered to free Viktor Bout, a Russian arms dealer serving a 25-year prison sentence in the United States, if Russia frees both Griner and another American, Paul Whelan, who has been wrongfully detained in Russia for espionage for the past four years.
“I have no intention of meeting with him,” Biden told CNN’s Jake Tapper in a recent interview. “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.”
“This has my full attention,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said last week of Griner’s and Whelan’s cases.
“We as you know have been having an ongoing discussion with Russian authorities about this. We put a substantial proposal on the table some months ago, and we urge Moscow to accept that proposal so we can resolve at least that issue, but our imperative is securing their release, and I don’t want to weigh in on the particulars of where we are, all I can tell you is we’re focused on it every day.”