Dawn Staley wearing Brittney Griner shirt South Carolina Coach Dawn Staley wears a “Free Brittney Griner” shirt before tipoff at Littlejohn Coliseum Thursday, November 17, 2022. The all-time series before tipoff is tied at 33-33. Ncaa Clemson Vs Basketball Vs Usc Women Wbb

While WNBA star Brittney Griner toils in a Russian penal colony while serving a nine-year sentence over possession of cannabis oil residue, the United States and Russia remain locked in private and public negotiations over her potential release as part of a prisoner swap.

After Russian authorities denied Griner’s appeal for freedom last month, they moved her to a maximum security penal colony 200 miles to the west of Moscow with “nightmare conditions.” This has raised the stakes for the U.S. to get Griner back home as soon as possible.

The presumption has long been that Russia is using Griner as a political prisoner in an attempt to get the United State to swap her, and potentially other American prisoners, for Russian prisoners in America, including Viktor Bout, an arms dealer who is currently serving 25 years in the U.S.

While Russian diplomats have noted negotiation “activity” between the two sides, they’ve also frustrated their American counterparts, who accused The Russian Federation of failing “to negotiate in good faith.” Earlier this week U.S. diplomat Elizabeth Rood told Russia’s state-owned RIA news agency that the U.S. has made overtures to Russia but they are still waiting on a “serious response.”

On Tuesday, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told reporters that “There is always a chance” that a deal could be struck before the end of the year.

“Regrettably, there have been a few occasions when it seemed that a decision in favor of it was about to be made, but it never happened,” Ryabkov said. He added that a prisoner swap “would undoubtedly send a positive signal that not everything is so hopeless in Russian-US relations.”

It remains unclear how serious Russia is to make a deal involving Griner before the end of the year, or anytime soon, but the discussions continue nonetheless.

[NY Post]

About Sean Keeley

Along with writing for Awful Announcing and The Comeback, Sean is the Editorial Strategy Director for Comeback Media. Previously, he created the Syracuse blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician and wrote 'How To Grow An Orange: The Right Way to Brainwash Your Child Into Rooting for Syracuse.' He has also written non-Syracuse-related things for SB Nation, Curbed, and other outlets. He currently lives in Seattle where he is complaining about bagels. Send tips/comments/complaints to sean@thecomeback.com.