November 5, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news


Brittney Griner waits inside the defendants’ cage during a trial in Khimki, outside Moscow, on August 4. (Evgenia Novozhenina/Pool/AFP/Getty Images)

American basketball star Brittney Griner, whose arrest has fueled fears that Russia is using her as a political pawn in the war in Ukraine, received another visit from a US embassy official this week.

“We’re told he’s doing as well as can be expected given the circumstances,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters Thursday.

Griner was arrested in February and sentenced to nine years in prison in August on drug trafficking charges. A Moscow court rejected his appeal at a hearing on October 25.

Here’s what we know about the effort to get Griner out of custody:

The US has offered a prisoner exchange: Jean-Pierre reiterated Thursday that “the US government has made a significant offer to the Russians to resolve today’s unacceptable and wrongful detentions” of Griner and Paul Whelan, another American detained by Russia.

U.S. officials have proposed a prisoner swap with Moscow, and those efforts have continued in recent weeks, despite no apparent progress, national security adviser Jake Sullivan said last month.

“We haven’t been met with a lot of positive responses, but we’re not stopping,” US President Joe Biden told reporters in October.

A senior Biden administration official who spoke to CNN that month said Russia has not yet presented a serious counteroffer, but “they are not responding.”

“They keep responding with something they know is not viable or available,” the official said.

Unofficial line of communication: Former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson – whose namesake center works on behalf of families of hostages and detainees – recently traveled to Russia to discuss the possible release of Griner and Whelan.

In early October, he told CNN he was “cautiously optimistic” the two Americans could be released by the end of the year.

Richardson, who also served as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations under former President Bill Clinton, said he is working with both families and coordinating with the White House toward their release. The former governor played a role in securing the release of Trevor Reed, an American veteran who was held in Russia for three years before being released in April.

The White House has previously distanced itself from Richardson’s efforts.