Following FSB anno that a US citizen, Paul Whelan, has been accused of espionage, US State Department confirms detention of a US citizen in Russia. US has requested consular access. 'Due to privacy considerations, we have no additional information to provide at this time.'
— Sarah Rainsford (@sarahrainsford) December 31, 2018
If I were Maria Butina, I’m not sure I’d be all that eager to return to the warm embrace of Mother Russia, but then what does an untravelled American like me know about true patriotism?
Per the Washington Post:
… President Vladimir Putin, in his New Year’s greeting to President Trump, said he was open to a meeting of the two leaders. Trump canceled a formal meeting with Putin at the Group of 20 summit in Buenos Aires in December over Russia’s seizure of Ukrainian naval vessels and crew.
“Russia-U.S. relations are the most important factor behind ensuring strategic stability and international security,” Putin wrote to Trump on Sunday, in one of many messages to heads of state around the globe…
In December, Russian gun rights activist Maria Butina pleaded guilty to conspiring with a senior Russian official to infiltrate U.S. conservative groups. Butina, 30, is the first Russian national to be convicted of seeking to influence U.S. policy in the run-up to the 2016 election by acting as a foreign agent.
Shortly before Butina pleaded guilty, Putin said she was not known to any of his spy agencies. The Foreign Ministry has gone to great lengths to paint Butina as a political prisoner, notably by launching a wide-ranging social media campaign.
(For the pedants, yes I understand that Orthodox Russia’s real New Year isn’t for another two weeks. But the ‘Relect Trump’ campaign needs a media distraction for when it’s discovered that Lord Smallgloves attended tonight’s big donor party at Mar-A-Largofvckyourself.)
Well, we know who Trump is going to agree with. "Putin told me™ he was a bad guy, so why not swap him for the confirmed Russian agent who cultivated the NRA-GOP connections?" https://t.co/CSrfhgF7BD
— Mig Greengard (@chessninja) December 31, 2018
With respect to #Russia's FSB detaining Paul Whelan, this action is purely retaliatory, as arrests of random Americans have been repeatedly suggested by Russian lawmakers. Additionally, the Russians may be hoping to swap Whelan in exchange for #Butina. https://t.co/RBZTfLz9r0
— Julia Davis (@JuliaDavisNews) December 31, 2018