Cooperation between Russia and the United States continues in the field of the so-called. “quiet diplomacy” on the exchange of a citizen of the Russian Federation serving a prison term in the United States Viktor Boot, said the director of the North America Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Alexander Darichev.
The Russian side hopes that Washington will continue to interact with Moscow and that the efforts being made will be fruitful. “Quiet diplomacy” continues, it should bear fruit, if, of course, in Washington they strictly follow it, without sliding into propaganda,” TASS quoted him as saying.
According to Darichev, the Americans deliberately tolerate the discussion of the exchange of citizens of the two states in order to put pressure on our country “through media hype” and in order to “gain political points for the ruling Democratic Party on the eve of the November elections to Congress.”
Hope for the release of Viktor Bout appeared on July 27, when it was reported that the US administration offered to exchange him for US citizens. Paul Ullan as well as Brittney Grinerand this idea was supported by the President Joe Biden. As the Americans reported at the time, a corresponding proposal was sent to Moscow back in June.
On July 29, the possibility of a prisoner exchange was discussed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State Blinken. After that, information appeared that the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry called on Blinken to abandon public speculation on this topic.
As you know, businessman Viktor Bout was sentenced by an American court in 2012 to 25 years in prison on charges of selling weapons to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.
A US citizen, former Marine Paul Whelan was sentenced in June 2020 to 16 years in a strict regime colony for espionage (Article 276 of the Criminal Code) for trying to obtain a list of operational officers of one of the FSB units. At the same time, he came to the attention of Russian law enforcement officers a few years earlier.
American basketball player Brittney Griner was sentenced in August 2022 to nine years in prison for drug smuggling and illegal possession. At the trial, she partially admitted her guilt.
Writer, publicist, author of the forthcoming book Viktor Bout. In pursuit of a dream” Igor Molotov no doubt that the American side is extremely interested in the exchange.
“Indeed, they have elections ahead of them, and the exchange of American citizens of imprisoned Russians, primarily Viktor Bout, will increase the rating of the Democrats, which is necessary for the Biden administration in the White House. In addition, Americans are generally very scrupulous about their compatriots in foreign prisons. This must be recognized and taken into account. This is empty talk that they can limit themselves to informational noise here and then abandon their citizen. They won’t quit, they’ll take care of his business. One can recall examples from history when they solved the issues of the liberation of their fellow citizens by military means.
“SP”: – That is, they will strive to bring the Greiner and Whelan case to an end?
– Of course. In addition, Bout has already served many years in the American Gulag, and they seem to be satisfied with such a solid term in political terms. Because they not only allow the possibility of exchanging Viktor Anatolyevich, but also publicly advertise it. No wonder our Foreign Ministry said that “quiet diplomacy” is under way. And there are reasons to believe that it is going quite successfully. Here, of course, the main thing is not to jinx it, as they say …
I have a feeling and reason to believe that Booth will return home. This will be done in approximately the same way as it was with the pilot Konstantin YaroshenkoWe learned about his release and extradition to Russia when he was already at the Istanbul airport.
Perhaps we will see something similar here. But with absolute certainty, of course, it is impossible to say how and when this will happen. I, as the author of the book, of course, would be pleased if this happened before the release of my book – then it would be possible to hold a presentation with his direct participation, where those who wish could take his autograph personally.
“SP”: – What can be said about the dissatisfaction of the Russian Foreign Ministry with the hype that the United States is making around this case?
— This is largely a difference in approaches. Our strategy is conditioned, as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs pointed out, by “quiet diplomacy”, when issues are resolved without noise, without all sorts of announcements. As for the American side, they deliberately make leaks in the media. This is exactly what we observed in this issue. It was probing the mood of the Americans. As you can see, the local public opinion is interested in the exchange. And, of course, it will be even more pleased when Whelan returns to the United States, and Viktor Bout to Russia.
“SP”: – Could public diplomacy be more active in our country?
– In general, public support for Bout is extremely high. There aren’t even any questions. Our politicians, Foreign Ministry, State Duma deputy Leonid Slutsky they are doing everything to ensure that Viktor Bout is released. If we talk about various activist events – petitions, rallies and similar things, then they are unlikely to play any role here, because the US administration will definitely not listen to them. Our state has been dealing with the Bout case for many years and there is hope that it will finally be brought to an end – until the release of our citizen.
Political scientist Stanislav Byshok I am convinced that the American establishment has practically no disagreements on the issue of the discussed exchange.
Of course, Democrats and Republicans are unanimous in their opinion that Russia is a threat, but they have an understanding that the window of opportunity for bilateral interaction and negotiations has narrowed very much. This applies to both global issues related to the problems of arms limitation, military conflicts, and private issues, such as the exchange of Viktor Bout for US citizens.
And they realize that until this window is closed – and there is such a danger, unfortunately – they need to use the opportunity and try to make an exchange around which so many copies are already breaking. To be honest, I can’t imagine an American politician who would consider Viktor Bout to be such a “bag of gold” that is in no way exchangeable for fellow citizens. And, to be honest, I see no reason why this exchange could not take place in the foreseeable future.
“SP”: – Our Foreign Ministry has made it clear that he is annoyed by information stuffing about this exchange, calls for a return to “quiet diplomacy.”
– Our Foreign Ministry has made it clear that he is annoyed by information stuffing about this exchange, calls for a return to “quiet diplomacy.”
This is a completely natural desire of diplomats to return the process behind closed doors, because it was precisely such difficult issues that were resolved for a rather long historical period. Our diplomats propose not to break the tradition, but to discuss the situation face to face.
Because this kind of stuffing most often causes speculation, gives rise to conjectures and does not at all contribute to achieving the result. The desire to conduct business in the traditional way is a completely constructive approach in the exchange of Viktor Bout for US citizens.