Things are looking like they’re going from already quite bad to even worse for America-bashing WNBA player Brittney Griner, the professional basketball player that refused to appear on the court for the national anthem following the death of George Floyd.
Now that she’s been locked up for nine years and fined a million rubles for smuggling drugs into the Russian Federation (she was caught with a hashish oil vape in her luggage), her wife has warned that she could be sent to a labor camp, it might seem that things couldn’t get worse for her.
But they can: now, if we are to believe what President Joe Biden recently said, it looks like Brittney Griner is going to be stuck in Russia for a while longer. That’s because he told Jake Tapper that he doesn’t plan on meeting with Putin unless perhaps for the purpose of getting Griner released, which makes it seem like the two are on bad enough terms that nothing is going to be worked out for Griner any time soon.
Newsweek, reporting on what Biden said about the potential of meeting with Vladimir Putin and why it’s bad news, said:
“I have no intention of meeting with him,” Biden said. “But, for example, if he came to me at the G20 and said, ‘I want to talk about the release of Griner,’ I would meet with him.”
Brian Taylor, a political science professor at Syracuse University whose research focuses on Russia and Putin, told Newsweek on Wednesday that he thinks Biden’s recent comment “should be interpreted that there is no movement by Putin to discuss Griner, although perhaps there is movement on the Griner case independent of Putin.”
“More generally, U.S.-Russian relations will continue to be bad as long as Russia is waging war against Ukraine,” added Taylor, the author of State Building in Putin’s Russia: Policing and Coercion after Communism. “But Biden wants to leave open the possibility of trying to arrange the release of Brittney Griner and other Americans held illegitimately in Russia, such as Paul Whelan.”
So, while the news coming out isn’t the absolute worst-case scenario for Griner–Biden refusing to meet with Putin whatsoever–it’s pretty close, as it looks very, very unlikely that the two are going to discuss her release.
Biden, after Griner was locked up, decried Russia holding her accountable for breaking its laws, saying “it’s unacceptable, and I call on Russia to release her immediately so she can be with her wife, loved ones, friends and teammates. My administration will continue to work tirelessly and pursue every possible avenue to bring Brittney and Paul Whelan home safely as soon as possible.”
Perhaps Biden will get the America-bashing athlete released. But, then again, perhaps she’ll have to stew in some Russian labor camp and reconsider her position on the United States and if it’s really as bad as she pretended after George Floyd died.