MOSCOW, December 9. /TASS/. The Russian-US deal on swapping businessman Viktor Bout for basketball player Brittney Griner did not mark a step towards ending the crisis between the two countries, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in a comment for the Izvestia daily published on Friday.
"These negotiations were exclusively about the topic of the exchange, it is probably wrong to draw any hypothetical conclusions that this could be a step towards a way out of the crisis that we now have in bilateral relations. No, [our] bilateral relations are still in quite a sad state," the press secretary said.
When speaking about Bout, Peskov said: "We certainly wish him a speedy recovery."
The Kremlin spokesman declined to disclose the details of the prisoner swap. "It’s absolutely impossible to disclose anything. The process involved the two countries’ intelligence agencies. The main outcome is that the Russian national who actually spent 14 years in US captivity and in completely unlawful confinement, has returned home," he stressed.
News broke on Thursday that Bout had been exchanged for Griner, convicted in Russia for smuggling hashish oil. The businessman returned to Russia in the early hours of Friday.
Viktor Bout was arrested in Thailand’s capital of Bangkok in 2008 following a sting by US federal agents. He was charged with conspiracy to deliver weapons to a group regarded as a terrorist organization by the United States. In 2010, Bout was extradited to the United States. In April 2012, he was sentenced to 25 years in prison and fined $15 million.