The Russian government has stated that discussions around Brittney Griner’s release are not a priority for them.
Griner has been in Russian custody since her February arrest, days before Russia invaded Ukraine, at a Moscow-area airport on drug smuggling charges.
The seven-time WNBA All-Star and Olympic gold medalist was handed down a nine-year prison sentence by a Russian court after pleading guilty to the charges against her.
“In this tense situation, I think that he (Biden) is thinking first and foremost about the upcoming midterm elections,” Yury Ushakov, a close aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin, told the state-run TV program “Moscow.Kremlin.Putin.”, according to USA Today.
“He keeps emphasizing the need to bring (Griner) back home … however, it’s not the main issue that we are concerned about.”
Ushakov’s remarks come after Griner’s wife, Cherelle, said in an interview last week she is terrified that her partner won’t ever return home.
Efforts to arrange a swap to free her have been hampered by the historically poor relations between Russia and the U.S.
The Biden administration has made Griner’s case, along with another wrongfully detained American, former U.S. Marine Paul Whalen, one of its top priorities.