Following the long awaited, negotiated release, of American basketball star Brittney Griner the other day, the political fallout continues given the fact United States mediators failed to get any other citizens included in the deal for notorious arms dealer Viktor Bout.
It was a long ten months of detention for the 32 year old Phoenix Mercury Center, and everyone knows it was purely political in design given the actual crime of simply having CBT oil, and whilst the disappointment of frustration of others at the ‘one for one’ deal is understandable given their relevant statuses, mediators and President Joe Biden were between a rock and a hard place here given current tensions following Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine.
The potential for future deals on those unlawfully held should be improved by the simple fact both parties still managed to get this one over the line given the current climate, and naturally Griner’s family, friends and fans will be delighted that it was finally allowed to happen.
With the whole incident beginning because Griner took the decision to try and showcase her talents in front of a Russian audience during the off season, it is a sad irony that fans may well not see her back on a court for quite a while yet.
As part of her readjustment and rehabilitation in the United States, it was confirmed on Sunday that she was now undergoing physical and mental evaluation at a Texas army facility, and the two time Olympic gold medallist is being debriefed at the Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, following her arrival back in the country on Friday morning.
Everyone will understand that after that ordeal she was taken immediately for ‘extensive health evaluations’.
The National Security Council’s Strategic Communications Coordinator, John Kirby, told This Week on ABC News on Sunday that the early indications from those evaluations had been incredibly positive and that she was doing very well given everything that has happened over the last year.
“She’s in very good spirits and in good health.”
Whilst everyone will continue to wish Griner the very best for the future as she returns to normal life, and eventually as many would hope, a good return to the basketball court in the coming months, there will also be hope that a deal can finally be secured for others, and namely, discharged marine, Paul Whelan, who the US had hoped to include in this deal.
Having served almost four years of his 16 year sentence for alleged spying, Robert Carstens, Biden’s special presidential envoy for hostage affairs, has confirmed that talks continue with their Kremlin counterparts over a deal for Whelan and others, telling CNN’s State of the Union.
“We have an ongoing open dialogue with the Russians and we have the commitment of the president, and my office certainly, to bring Paul Whelan home.”
He added that he had actually spoken to Whelan in a Russian prison a day after the Griner swap was announced when it was clear he would not be included in the deal to urge him to ‘keep the faith – we’re coming to get you’.
Let us hope that happens sooner rather than later, just as we hope Griner in back on the court in the same time frame.