Talks on detainees including Whelan to continue because Russians have ‘something they want,’ US official says


A senior administration official told CNN that the Biden administration believes the Russian government will remain involved in resolving the detainees, including the release of American Paul Whelan, because “they have what they want in the world.”

The official went on to say that Moscow knows that if the two sides continue to talk to us, a “mutually acceptable arrangement” will eventually be reached.

“We’ve shown an openness to talk about what we can actually get and just respond to demand for what we can’t get,” the official said, repeating that the Russians had rejected offers to secure release. Whelan.

On Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said further prisoner exchanges with the United States were possible. Putin said the exchange of Griner for convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout was “the result of negotiations and the search for a compromise”.

“In this case, a compromise was found. We do not refuse to continue this work in the future,” he said.

CNN previously reported that convicted Russian murderer Vadim Krasikov, who is in German custody, is one of Moscow’s demands and that officials have not ruled out his release as an ongoing demand.

Demands related to the Ukraine war were not part of the negotiations to secure Griner’s release and try to secure Whelan’s, the official said, adding that the United States would not budge on that front.

“We’ve obviously thought about why that’s the case” that the Russians didn’t bring it up, the official said, “and I think we think it’s because we’ve been very clear, so aligned, how the negotiations resolve this horrible situation.” The situation is not our business.”

The official added: “If it is brought up, it is certainly not for bargaining. The future of another country is not a bargain, nor is it a bargain to defend democracy against autocracy.”

While U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken has said “every possible” offer has been made to the Russians to secure Whelan’s release, the Biden administration has ideas for “new forms of proposals” they will try with the Russians to try to get the senior Administration officials said Whelan’s release was assured.

“The president and his team are going to have to see that they have something of value that these people want and hopefully give it to them, or I’m going to be here for a long time,” Whelan told CNN on Thursday. ”

However, his brother is skeptical about the possibility of identifying what the Russians want.

“It is clear that the U.S. government has no concessions that the Russian government would make for Paul Whelan. Therefore, Paul will remain a prisoner until this situation changes,” David Whelan said in a statement on Thursday.

Paul Whelan’s older sister, Elizabeth Whelan, said on CNN’s “Erin Burnett OutFront” on Friday that public discussions around a potential swap were “difficult for my family to hear,” adding that she believed her brother was being “discussed as if he The only thing worth anything” is what we have to give up for him. ”

Asked about her family’s discussions with the U.S. government about her brother’s imprisonment, Elizabeth Whelan said, “I think it’s become very clear to us — at least in my opinion — that my brother is worth more, With greater rights. Worth more than any Russian criminal.”

Russia sees Paul Whelan as spy, top government says That meant they saw him in a different category, officials explained. The official did not see the U.S. supply of a Russian spy in U.S. custody as a potential overture to Russia.

“This president is willing to pay a very high price,” the official said. “We’ve made it clear to the Russians that we’re at least willing to talk about what we have at our disposal, what we can actually deliver. It’s going to be someone in our custody.”

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