Russia’s foreign ministry confirmed Thursday that it was engaged in “quiet diplomacy” with the United States regarding the potential prisoner swap that would include WNBA star Brittney Griner and former Marine Paul Whelan for convicted Russian gun-runner Viktor Bout.
“Quiet diplomacy is underway and it should bear fruit if Washington follows it, and not fall into propaganda through media hype to score points before an election,” said Ivan Nechayev, a spokesman for the Russian foreign ministry, apparently referring to November’s midterm elections.
The Kremlin has said on several occasions that U.S. officials were undermining efforts to secure a prisoner swap by resorting to “megaphone diplomacy.”
Hollywood Movie Anyone?
Jeff Eisenberg wrote in Yahoo Sports that the scene of the April prisoner swap of former US Marine Trevor Reed for the convicted drug-smuggling Russian pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko looked like a scene from a Hollywood movie.
“On one end of a Turkish airport tarmac sat a Russian federal security plane. On the other was a private jet owned by a U.S. government contractor,” wrote Eisenberg.
Once Turkish authorities confirmed the presence of both prisoners they ordered both planes to open their doors and Reed and Yaroshenko disembarked and switched planes – escorted by U.S. and Russian intelligence officers of course.
Putin Style: The Lure Of The Cold War
Russian journalists, Irina Borogan and Andrei Soldatov, of the Center for European Policy Analysis, say Putin relishes in the grandiose exchanges of captured spies that took place on the famed Glienicke Bridge connecting Berlin and Potsdam.
“Putin is not purely a student of Cold War operations. He has also learned lessons during his 22 years in power when he accumulated his own history of swaps. Ultimately, he developed his own strategy and style with one signature element — always change the terms of the agreement.”
The Bridge Of Spies
The Glienicke Bridge, used to exchange high-ranking spies between the Eastern and Western powers, was portrayed in Steven Spielberg’s “Bridge of Spies” starring Tom Hanks. (Photo: Billelar.dk)
Danielle Gilbert, Dartmouth University foreign policy fellow and hostage diplomacy expert told Yahoo Sports that her “hunch is that a Brittney Griner trade would follow the same pattern” as the highly secretive April swap of Reed.
“This is now an established working process,” Gilbert said. “I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they drew from it again.”
PHOTO: Wikimedia Commons and Atlantic Council