Although Russia and the United States are not coming to many agreements, a prisoner exchange has been coordinated. “Russia has exchanged jailed American Trevor Reed for a Russian pilot held in a U.S. prison in a rare example of cooperation between the two countries amid the confrontation over Moscow’s war in Ukraine” reports Bloomberg.
30-year-old Reed is a former U.S. Marine was serving nine years in prison after being convicted in 2020 of assaulting two police officers. Reed was swapped for Konstantin Yaroshenko, a Russian pilot jailed in 2011 for 20 years for conspiracy to smuggle cocaine into the U.S. after he was seized in a sting operation in Liberia.
U.S. President Joe Biden spoke early Wednesday with Reed’s parents, who expressed their relief and joy, and the former Marine was able to call his family from a government plane en route to the U.S., according to a person familiar with the discussions. Biden had earlier commuted Yaroshenko’s sentence as part of the exchange, according to senior administration officials who briefed reporters Wednesday.
“The negotiations that allowed us to bring Trevor home required difficult decisions that I do not take lightly,” Biden said in a statement. Biden had raised the cases of Reed and another jailed American, Paul Whelan, at his summit meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva last year, telling reporters later that “I’m not going to walk away” from them.
I am pleased that after years of wrongful detention by the Russian government, Trevor Reed has been freed and reunited with his family. We thank our partners for their cooperation and help to free Trevor.
— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) April 27, 2022
Reed was detained in 2019 and had charges against him denied. He the went on hunger strike to protest conditions in jail last year, his family said. The U.S. insists Reed was unfairly convicted, unlike Yaroshenko.
Russian TV footage showed Reed walking unsteadily as armed Russian police officers bundled him onto a plane at Moscow’s Vnukovo airport.
Reed’s deteriorating health added urgency to efforts to secure his release, a senior Biden administration official said. Whelan remains in Russian custody.
Reed’s family thanked Biden for “the decision to bring Trevor home.” In a statement released through a spokesperson, they said: “The president’s action may have saved Trevor’s life.”
The exchange took place in Turkey. “Reed and Yaroshenko arrived at almost exactly the same time in Turkey. Teams on the ground on both sides confirmed the identities of the person the other country was offering, then Yaroshenko and Reed were walked across the tarmac to the other plane.”
The negotiations over Reed and Yaroshenko were strictly limited to the prisoner exchange and “not part of a broader discussion with the Russian Federation,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said in an interview with MSNBC.
“We didn’t seek that. We aren’t seeking that,” Price said.
Bloomberg adds that U.S. officials are hopeful Reed’s release could open the door for other Americans detained or having legal issues in Russia such as WNBA basketball player Brittney Griner, who has been detained for allegedly possessing vape cartridges containing hash oil.
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Trump: Tanks to Ukraine could escalate to use of ‘NUKES’
Former President Donald Trump stated bluntly on Truth Social, “FIRST COME THE TANKS, THEN COME THE NUKES. Get this crazy war ended, NOW. So easy to do!”
Trump was referring to the escalation of war in Ukraine. He, like many other commentators and lawmakers, are warning that the decision to continue sending weapons – and now tanks – could potentially lead to the use of “nuclear weapons.”
It’s mission creep and it’s dangerous, they say.
Why? Because Russian President Valdimir Putin has indicated in two different speeches that he would use nuclear weapons to defend Russia, if needed. Those warnings are not just bluster but a very real possibility.
And the escalation of war is visible.
Russia launched 55 missiles strikes across Ukraine Thursday, leaving 11 dead. The strikes come one day after the United States and Germany agreed to send tanks to Ukraine in an effort to aide the country. 47 of the 55 missiles were shot down according to Ukraine’s Air Force command.
Eleven lives were lost and another 11 were injured additionally leaving 35 buildings damaged in the wake of the attacks. According to The New York Times, Denys Shmyhal, said in a post on Telegram. “The main goal is energy facilities, providing Ukrainians with light and heat,” he said.
Ukraine is now demanding that they need F-16 fighter jets. In a post on twitter Ukrainian lawmaker, Oleksiy Goncharenko said, “Missiles again over Ukraine. We need F16.”
Morning. Missiles again over Ukraine. We need F16.
— Oleksiy Goncharenko (@GoncharenkoUa) January 26, 2023
The US has abstained from sending advanced jets in the chances that a volatile decision could foster more dangerous attacks like former President Trump’s post on Truth referred to. If the US did authorize the decision to lend Ukraine the F-16 jets Netherlands’ foreign minister, Wopke Hoekstra, would be willing to supply them. According to The New York Times, Hoekstra told Dutch lawmakers, “We are open-minded… There are no taboos.”
F-16 fighter jets are complex to work on, they are not the average aircraft that can be learned in a matter of weeks. It can take months for pilots to learn how to fly these birds. European and US officials have the concern that Ukrainian forces could potentially use the jets to fly into Russian airspace and launch attacks on Russian soil.
Western allies are trying to avoid such a provocation, because that could lead to nuclear warfare in reference to what Putin has said he would do to defend his country.
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