President Joe Biden announced this week that Trevor Reed, a former Marine from Texas who has been detained in Russia for more than two years, has been freed in a prisoner swap.
Reed had traveled to Russia in the summer of 2019 with his Russian girlfriend to learn the language. But in August, he was arrested for intoxication and taken to a jail to sober up. He then faced a nine-year prison sentence.
In exchange for Reed's freedom, the Biden administration released Konstantin Yaroshenko, a Russian pilot who was serving a lengthy sentence in the United States on cocaine trafficking charges.
"We're always working to exchange people that have been unceremoniously incarcerated in foreign countries on trumped-up charges, and it would appear as if that was the case with this Marine," submits Bob Maginnis, a senior fellow for national security at the Family Research Council. "That's not unusual to arrest people for general purposes to create a hostage situation that they can take advantage of. Basically they did that, and they got their drug dealer of sorts … out of our hands and back into the friendly hands there in Moscow."
Maginnis adds, though, that Russia may have had some alternative objectives to making this particular exchange.
"I don't think that they're on the surface all that clear," he suggests. "But giving back a service member to the U.S. in exchange for basically a crony of the Kremlin is at least keeping the conversation open and the dialogue going."
He says a lot happens behind the scenes when enemies and friends dialogue.