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Putin releases former US Marine in exchange for Russian pilot released by Biden

The two prisoners were sentenced for common crimes and their release and exchange has nothing to do with the dispute in Ukraine

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Former US Marine Trevor Reed, sentenced to 9 years in prison in Russia for assaulting a police officer in the summer of 2019, was released and traveled back to his country this Wednesday when he was exchanged for Konstantin Yaroshenko, a Russian pilot imprisoned in the United States. for cocaine trafficking.

The “long” negotiation for the exchange, which began months ago, was isolated at all times from the bilateral conflict over the Russian invasion of Ukraine, according to high-ranking US officials. President Joe Biden broke the news through a statement in which he celebrated Reed’s release while indicating that, to achieve it, he had made “difficult decisions” that he had not taken “lightly.”  The president was referring – members of his cabinet clarified – to the fact of having had to approve the commutation of the sentence imposed on “a Russian smuggler convicted of conspiring to import cocaine”.

The senior official who explained it also made it clear that the release, also materialized this Wednesday with the delivery of Yaroshenko to the authorities of his country, “does not undermine or diminish the determination of his guilt.”

The inmate was serving a 20-year sentence in a Connecticut prison after being arrested in Liberia in 2010 and extradited to the United States. And “he has already paid a high price in the American justice system,” said one of the spokesmen for the Biden Administration.

Reed was arrested in the summer of 2019 and sentenced to 9 years for allegedly assaulting a police officer.

The same sources stressed that Reed’s release and the exchange with Yaroshenko “represent no change, zero, in our approach to the terrible violence in Ukraine.”

The negotiations with the Russians that led to the agreement “were strictly limited to this matter and did not lead to a broader diplomatic conversation,” they insisted.

Konstantin Yaroshenko, the pilot released in exchange, was serving a 20-year sentence in a federal prison in Connecticut.

Russian authorities accused Reed of assaulting a police officer while several officers were driving him to a police station after a night of heavy drinking.

The family of the American veteran always maintained and continues to maintain his innocence. And Washington considered him “unfairly detained.”

The negotiations that allowed us to bring Trevor home required difficult decisions that I did not take lightly.”

Joe BidenUnited States’s president

The release and exchange were not easy, especially since the war in Ukraine began. “I am grateful for the tireless and dedicated work of Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs Roger Carstens, US Ambassador to the Russian Federation John Sullivan, and many others in our government to ensure that Trevor returned home healthy.” and safe,” Biden wrote.

The exchange took place in Turkey, Reed’s father, Joey Reed, said.

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