Despite Russia saying there was new “activity” in negotiations to return Brittney Griner to the United States, the U.S. Department of State says Russia still is not seriously negotiating.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Viktor Bout, a convicted arms dealer serving 25 years in a U.S. prison, is “undoubtedly … among those being discussed, and obviously we are hoping for a positive result.”
However, the U.S. said Russia has “consistently failed to negotiate in good faith.”
“We are not going to comment on the specifics of any proposals other than to say that we have made a substantial offer that the Russian Federation has consistently failed to negotiate in good faith,” a U.S. statement said.
“The U.S. government has continued to follow up on that offer and propose alternative potential ways forward with the Russian government. The Russian government’s failure to seriously negotiate on these issues in the established channel, or any other channel for that matter, runs counter to its public statements.”
ESPN notes that Griner’s family is confident the Biden administration is working to bring the WNBA star home, but they also are trying to stay level-headed on what is clearly a complicated process.
The U.S. comments come after Griner was reportedly transferred to a Russian penal colony, roughly 300 miles southeast of Moscow, where she is expected to serve out a nine-year prison sentence for drug smuggling. Her appeal was denied last month.
Griner has been placed at female penal colony IK-2 in Yavas, which is in the region of Mordovia, the same area where American Paul Whelan is being held, according to Reuters. However, Russia has yet to officially notify the U.S. of the move.
Griner was arrested at Sheremetyevo Airport in Moscow Feb. 17 after Russian officials said she was carrying vape canisters containing cannabis oil in her luggage. Despite pleading guilty to the charges, the two-time Olympic gold medalist claimed she inadvertently brought the substances with her and did not intend to break the law.
Fox News’ Paulina Dedaj contributed to this report.