A report by CNN says that Russia demanded that Russian spy, Vadim Krasikov, be released along with Viktor Bout, a Russian arms dealer who was serving a 25-year sentence in the US, in exchange for Paul Whelan and Brittney Griner.
According to CNN, Russia refused to release Paul Whelan and Brittney Griner together unless the former colonel from Russia’s domestic spy organization was also released as part of any prisoner swap.
Vadim Krasikov is serving a life sentence in Germany, according to the outlet.
Frédéric Bélot, a lawyer who represented Vinnik in France before his extradition to the US, told CNN on Friday that he was not aware of any current discussions between Moscow and Washington over including Vinnik in a potential prisoner swap.
“They [Vinnik and Whelan] make part of the possible ‘candidates’ for the next swap,” Bélot said in a text message to CNN.
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A senior Biden administration official acknowledged to CNN on Thursday night that the Russian side had repeatedly demanded someone not even in US custody, even as the US made a number of different proposals.
In the end, the Russians kept asking for the “same thing” that the US could simply not deliver on, the official told CNN.
“We have shown an openness to talk about that which is actually available to us and gotten only in response a demand for something not available to us,” the official said, reiterating that the Russians refused what had been offered to secure the release of Whelan.
Vadim Krasikov was convicted in December of 2021 of a brazen daylight killing in Germany’s capital that judges said was ordered by federal authorities in Russia and was labeled as “state terrorism” by a Berlin court.
The 2019 slaying of Zelimkhan “Tornike” Khangoshvili, 40, a Georgian citizen of Chechen ethnicity, sparked outrage in Germany and inflamed diplomatic tensions between Moscow and Berlin. It prompted the German government to expel two Russian diplomats followed by a reciprocal response from Russia.
The Berlin regional court said in its verdict that Russian authorities provided Vadim Krasikov with a false identity, a fake passport, and the resources to carry out the hit on August 23, 2019.
“The central government of the Russian Federation was the author of this crime,” presiding judge Olaf Arnoldi said. “It commissioned the accused.”
At the time, the Kremlin called the allegations of Russian involvement in the Berlin killing “absolutely groundless.”