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23 May, 2024 22:33

Kremlin comments on Putin-Trump ‘contacts’

The statement follows a claim by the former US president that the Russian leader would release an American detainee “for me”
Kremlin comments on Putin-Trump ‘contacts’

There has been no communication between Russian President Vladimir Putin and US presidential candidate Donald Trump regarding the release of an incarcerated American journalist or any other topic, the Kremlin said on Thursday.

“Naturally, Putin has no contacts with Donald Trump,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters. He made the comment after Trump claimed in a social media post that after he wins back the presidency in November, Putin will free Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich.

The journalist “will be released almost immediately after the election, but definitely before I take office,” Trump said on Truth Social. “He will be home, safe and with his family. Vladimir Putin, president of Russia, will do that for me, but not for anyone else, and we will be paying nothing!”

Peskov dismissed Trump’s boast, saying any communications with US officials regarding the potential release of Americans accused of crimes in Russia would be done in complete secrecy. “We can state once again what we have repeatedly said that these talks must be carried out in complete silence and in an absolutely covert manner. This is the only way to make them effective.”

Gershkovich, a US citizen, was arrested by Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) on espionage allegations in March 2023. He was accused of gathering state secrets related to a military-industrial enterprise in Ekaterinburg. A Russian court has extended his detention several times as he awaits trial.

Putin said in an interview earlier this year with American podcast host Tucker Carlson that Gershkovich was “caught red-handed” gathering classified information for “the US special services.” He added that US and Russian intelligence services were discussing the possible release of Gershkovich, which would require some reciprocation from Washington.

Trump has previously predicted that he will secure Gershkovich’s release, saying in a Time magazine interview last month that unlike current US President Joe Biden, he will be able to get the journalist freed. “I get along very well with Putin, but the reporter should be released, and he will be released.”

T. J. Ducklo, a senior adviser to Biden’s reelection campaign, claimed that Trump “doesn’t give a damn” about Americans jailed in Russia. He added, “For Donald Trump, these wrongfully imprisoned Americans are political weapons and props to use for his own gain. For Joe Biden, they are human beings whose loved ones and family members he has spent time with.”