Russian President Vladimir Putin indicated that the recent prisoner exchange with the United States could be the first of more to come, Kremlin-operated RIA Novosti reported.
On Friday, Putin largely deferred to the Russian Federal Security Service [FSB] when talking to reporters about swapping WNBA star Brittney Griner for convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.
"As for the exchanges, in this case, the FSB was in charge of these topics," Putin stated. "The FSB agreed from the beginning, negotiated, and now it has achieved the results that you have now learned about."
However, he also signaled openness to further talks with the U.S. after confirming that "contact continues" with the Biden administration and "never stopped through the special services."
"Everything is possible," he declared. "This is the result of negotiations and a search for compromises. In this case, compromises were found. We do not refuse to continue this work in the future."
The statement serves as good news for retired Marine Paul Whelan, an American detained in Russia who has received substantial media attention since the prisoner exchange with Griner for Bout.
Critics have noted that, while Whelan has been in prison since December 2018 on shaky espionage charges, Griner was arrested last year for attempting to smuggle marijuana oil into Russia, per CNN.
But the White House defended its decision not to pursue Whelan's release in the exchange on Thursday. President Joe Biden's press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre claimed that "it was either Brittney or no one at all."
"This was not a choice for us on of which American to bring home. That was not the choice. It was a choice between bring home one American or bring home none. And we brought one home today," Jean-Pierre said.
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