What’s next for Britney Griner?

By pleading guilty to drug possession in a Russian courtroom this week, US basketball star Britney Greener potentially hastened her case’s conclusion, clearing the way for either a deal with the United States or possibly a pardon plea.

With a guilty verdict and a near-foregone conclusion in the Russian legal system that largely supports the prosecution, experts say her best hope is that the Biden administration will secure her freedom by freeing a Russian hero in the United States. In particular, the name of one prisoner surfaced: Victor BoutRussian arms dealer serving a 25-year prison sentence.

But any such talks can only take place after the formalities of Griner’s trial are completed, Russian officials say.

“Obviously, we have not completed the necessary legal procedures,” Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei A. Ryabkov told Russian news agencies on Thursday, when asked about a possible exchange. “Until this happens, there is no nominal, formal or procedural basis for any further steps.”

RS. Griner is still going through the stages of conviction and sentencing, and her next court hearing is scheduled for Thursday, July 14.

RS. Griner is charged with illegal possession of drugs and smuggling “significant amounts.” Appearing before a judge outside the Russian capital on the second day of her trial, Ms Griner said she had inadvertently smuggled a banned substance into the country because she packed in a hurry. Russian authorities say they found e-cigarette cartridges containing 0.7 grams of cannabis oil in her luggage when Ms. S. Griner arrived in February to play basketball, and she was detained since then, he faces 10 years in prison in a strict regime colony.

Hours after her guilty plea Thursday, it emerged that her advisers may be laying the groundwork for a diplomatic effort between U.S. and Russian officials to take the lead.

“Given the nature of her case, the small amount of the substance and the personality of B.G., as well as the history of a positive contribution to world and Russian sports, the defense hopes that the application will be considered by the court as a mitigating circumstance and there will be no serious consequences. verdict,” her legal team said in a statement.

US officials insist they are doing everything they can to secure the release of the lady. Griner, 31, is a seven-time WNBA All-Star, two-time Olympian and the first openly gay athlete to sign with Nike. At Thursday’s hearing, Chargé d’Affaires of the US Embassy in Moscow, Elizabeth Rude, handed Ms. J. Griner a letter from President Biden.

But as tensions between the United States and Russia reach their highest level in decades over President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, Mr. Biden has few options to secure its freedom. This was emphasized by Mr. Ryabkov on Thursday, when he made one of the most extensive comments of any Russian official about the madam. Griner’s case for the almost five months she spent in custody.

“The hype and PR, with all the love for this genre of modern politicians, in this particular case only get in the way,” he said. Ryabkov said. “This is not just a distraction from the case, but creates interference in the truest sense of the word. That’s why silence is needed here.”

However, he hinted that Moscow is interested in negotiations about the lady. Griner, stating that “a serious reading by the American side of the signals that they received from Russia, from Moscow, through specialized channels” will help her.

mr. Ryabkov did not elaborate on what those signals were, although Russian state media have speculated that the Kremlin may be interested in trading the American athlete for Mr. Putin. Booth, 55, is a former Soviet military man who made his fortune trading arms around the world before being caught in a federal sting operation.

No deal, ma’am. Griner could face years in prison.