(NewsNation) — Trevor Reed’s return to the United States shows Russian-American diplomacy is still working despite the tensions over the war in Ukraine, a foreign policy expert said on NewsNation’s “Morning in America.”
Still, the “asymmetrical nature” of the prisoner swap that freed Reed raises questions, however, Brian Whitmore, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, said.
Reed, a Marine veteran, was released after being sentenced to prison after Russian authorities said he assaulted an officer following a night of heavy drinking.
His family maintained his innocence, and on Wednesday, Reed was freed in a prisoner swap between U.S. officials and Russian officials in exchange for Russian pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko.
“There’s a practice by Russia to arrest Americans under false pretenses, hold them as hostages and hope to trade them for Russians who have been arrested for legitimate crimes in the United States,” Reed said. “I’d like to add that Trevor Reed was arrested under very suspicious circumstances back in 2019. He was traded for who was a cocaine trafficker who was convicted in American court back in 2010. So I think this is there’s an asymmetrical nature to this exchange.”
Described as an “an experienced international drug trafficker” by the U.S. Justice Department, Yaroshenko had been serving a 20-year federal prison sentence in Connecticut for conspiring to smuggle cocaine into the U.S.
None of that changes the fact that “we should all be very happy that Trevor Reed is at home and with his family,” Whitmore added.
One question Whitmore has is why Russia wanted a drug trafficker back. He pointed out that Russian officials have also been pushing for the release of Viktor Bout, who was convicted of arms trafficking by an American court in 2011.
“That raises questions about connections between the Kremlin and this kind of criminal activity,” Whitmore said. “These are questions I think we need to ask when we’re looking at people like Trevor Reed, a former Marine young man who was in visiting Russia back in 2019, Paul Whelan, another former Marine who was attending a wedding in Moscow in 2018 and arrested for alleged espionage on very flimsy charges, and of course, the WNBA star Brittney Griner, who was arrested this year.”