(The Hill) – A Russian official said Sunday that the detention of WNBA star Brittney Griner is not a priority for the Kremlin despite President Biden’s repeated calls for her release.
“In this tense situation, I think he (Biden) is primarily thinking about the upcoming mid-term elections,” said Yuri Ushakov, a close aide of Russian President Vladimir Putin, to the state TV program “Moscow.Kremlin.Putin.”. according to USA Today.
“He keeps stressing the need to get (Griner) home … however, that’s not the main issue we’re concerned about.”
Ushakov’s remarks come after Griner’s wife, Cherelle, he said in an interview last week she is terrified that her partner will never come home.
The 31-year-old basketball star was in custody in Russia since February when she was arrested by authorities days after Russia launched its unprovoked invasion of neighboring Ukraine. Seven-time Olympic gold medalist and WNBA All-Star was sentenced to nine years in prison by a Russian court after pleading guilty to the charges against her.
The Biden administration has made Griner’s case, along with another wrongly detained American, former US Marine Paul Whalen, one of its top priorities.
President Biden said last week that he did no intention meeting with Putin at the upcoming Group of 20 summit, but would consider it if the Russian leader wanted to discuss Griner’s release.
Griner’s wife told CBS’ Gayle King in an interview Thursday that she felt like she was stuck in the movie.
“I would never have thought in any world that our president and the president of a foreign nation would sit down and talk about my wife’s freedom,” she told the “CBS Mornings” host. “It seems like he’s a hostage… It terrifies me.”
Cherelle Griner added that both Russia and the US they have to settle their differences and work on solutions to bring your partner home.
“My brain can’t even comprehend it,” she told King. “I feel like I hear something new every day, and it’s scary.”