Politics

Biden Discussed Imprisoned Former US Marines With Putin

The US President said he discussed the imprisonment of Paul Whelan and Trevor Reed with his Russian counterpart.

President Joe Biden said after his meeting with President Vladimir Putin that he is "not going to walk away" from the plight of two Americans detained in Russia.

Speaking to reporters, Mr Biden said he raised the imprisonment of former US Marines Paul Whelan and Trevor Reed in his meeting with Mr Putin.

The US President said: "We discussed it.

"I'm going to follow through with that discussion."

Mr Putin opened the door to possible discussions about a prisoner swap with the US for the release of the Americans and said those conversations would continue.

The US did not immediately comment on Mr Putin's characterisation of the discussion.

WATCH: Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin shake hands ahead of the summit in Geneva.

Paul Whelan is a Canadian-born US resident who also holds British and Irish nationality and received a bad conduct discharge from the US Marine Corps.

He was arrested in Moscow in late December 2018 and sentenced in June 2020 to 16 years in Russian prison on charges of espionage.

American citizen Trevor Reed, also a former US Marine, was detained in Moscow in 2019 on charges of assaulting a police officer.

In July 2020, a Russian court sentenced the then-29-year-old to nine years in prison.

The Russian and US leaders met for their highly-anticipated summit in the Swiss city of Geneva on Wednesday, as relations between the West and Russia continue to deteriorate.

President Biden has recently called on Russia to cease cyber attacks and aggressive behaviour toward NATO allies, while the alliance leader Jens Stoltenberg says relations with Moscow are at the "lowest point" since the Cold War.

Mr Putin has responded – pointing to the 6 January insurrection at the US Capitol to argue that the US has no business lecturing on democratic norms and insisting that the Russian government has not been involved in any election interference or cyber attacks, despite US intelligence showing otherwise.

Cover images: Alamy/PA.