US deliberating a prisoner exchange deal with Russia - reports
The US aims to exchange the two American personnel including Evan Gershkovich with Russian prisoners they have detained.
Washington is reportedly still trying to figure out a deal to retrieve their recently detained personnel for alleged espionage: former Marine Paul Whelan and American journalist Evan Gershkovich, according to The Wall Street Journal citing White House officials.
"Within that which is legally available, we are constantly looking to see what might be relevant or what might be useful," the unnamed official was quoted as saying by the newspaper.
The complication is that the US aims to exchange the two American personnel with Russian prisoners they have detained: the Moscow prisoners need to be valuable enough for Russia to agree to the deal, but not too valuable so that Washington accepts releasing them. The report noted that the prisoner swap was unlikely to happen without a third-party mediator.
Evan Gershkovich was arrested last month after he was caught by Russia’s Federal Security Service while trying to obtain information classified as secret by the Russian government.
Last week, Russian news agencies reported that Moscow had formally charged US journalist Evan Gershkovich with espionage.
According to the FSB, Gershkovich, "acting on the instructions of the American side, collected information constituting a state secret about the activities of one of the enterprises of the Russian military-industrial complex."
Paul Whelan, a US marine veteran serving a 16-year sentence in Russia on espionage charges, has caused a stir and is labeled as being "forgotten". Back in December, Biden had commented about the detained Marine saying “We’ve not forgotten about Paul Whelan, who has been unjustly detained in Russia for years”.
Back in early April, during a phone call conversation, Lavrov and Blinken discussed the detention of Evan Gershkovich.
Blinken urged for Gershkovich's immediate release, Lavrov stressed the necessity to respect the Russian government's decisions.