More Russia-US prisoner swaps possible, says Putin

Russia-US intelligence talks will continue, but only focus is prisoner exchanges, says Russian president.

More Russia-US prisoner swaps possible, says Putin

With negotiations and compromises, Russia and the US could exchange more prisoners in the future, President Vladimir Putin said on Friday.

Commenting on the swap of American basketball star Brittney Griner and Russian national Viktor Bout, Putin said it happened because “compromises were found.”

“We do not rule out continuing such efforts in the future,” the Russian president said at a news conference in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan, after a Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) summit.

According to Putin, contacts between Russian and US intelligence services were initiated by the Americans and carried out “in a normal working mode.”

“We did not expect anything supernatural from them … We agreed that these contacts will continue,” he added.

To a question about more prisoner swaps, he said: “Everything is possible. It is a result of talks and the ability to compromise.”

However, he refuted the impression that prisoner exchanges could lead to dialogue with the US on other issues, saying the ongoing intelligence-level talks are focused on a single issue.

To a question about Russia’s nuclear doctrine, Putin said Moscow could take a leaf out of Washington’s page, including the strategy of “a disarming strike.”

“The US has a preemptive strike theory, first. Secondly, they are developing a disarming strike system. What is it? This is a strike by modern high-tech means, which could destroy control points and deprive the enemy of these control systems, and so on,” he elaborated.

“If we are to talk about this disarming strike, then maybe we should think about emulating the achievements of our American partners, their ideas of ensuring their security?” he said.

Russia will respond to oil price cap in next few days

Putin denounced the West’s decision to impose a price cap on Russian oil exports as “silly, harmful, and ill-considered,” reiterating that Moscow will not do business with countries who support the move.

EU countries last week agreed on a $60 per barrel price cap for Russian crude oil exports transported by sea, and have been joined by the G7 states and Australia.

The Russian president warned that lower prices will deprive the energy sector of investment, which could lead to shortages and “skyrocketing prices.”

If Russia agrees to this price cap, such measures could be applied to other areas and lead to a greater disruption of global market and economic principles, he added.

Putin said the $60 limit is almost around the price that Russia normally charges for its oil, meaning it will not be suffering losses in any case.

Moscow will unveil “specific steps” in response to the price cap in the next few days, he said, adding that the measures will be outlined in a presidential decree.

Putin said EAEU countries have agreed to establish a common gas trade market within two years, with an agreement likely between Russia, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan.

Zero trust between Russia and the West

Turning to the Ukraine conflict, Putin said a settlement will not be easy and could take some time.

After former German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s “unexpected and disappointing” statements on the 2014 Minsk agreement, there is almost zero trust between Russia and the West, he said.

He was referring to Merkel’s comments in a recent German media interview that the deal was only signed to buy Ukraine some time to become stronger.

After such statements it is not clear how we can look for any agreements in the future, Putin said.

He said Russia believed the German government, although it was supporting Ukraine, was sincerely looking for a settlement based on principles.

“They were deceiving us. The point was only to pump Ukraine with weapons and prepare for combat,” said Putin.

“Apparently, we got our bearings late. Maybe it all should have started earlier,” he added, referring to what Moscow calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine.

Putin also ruled out any more military recruitment drives in Russia.