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Kremlin Responds After Trump Claims Putin Will Release Journalist Only If He's Elected

After Donald Trump posted that Putin would only release WSJ journalist Evan Gershkovich from Russian prison once Trump is elected, the Kremlin weighed in through a spokesman.

Donald Trump; Evan Gershkovich; Vladimir Putin
Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images; Natalia Kolesnikova/AFP via Getty Images; Contributor/Getty Images

On Thursday morning at 1:30am, former Republican President Donald Trump took to Truth Social to claim he had a deal with Russian President Vladimir Putin to release imprisoned Wall Street Journal contributor Evan Gershkovich.

The only catch? Trump must be elected President in November.

Trump posted:

"Evan Gershkovich, the Reporter from The Wall Street Journal, who is being held by Russia, will be released almost immediately after the Election, but definitely before I assume Office. 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!"

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The post was called out for sounding more like extortion and a quid pro quo than the great news Trump appeared to think it was.

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But now the Kremlin has denied any such agreement—or even having a discussion—with Trump.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told state-run news agency Tass:

"Putin has no contacts with Donald Trump."

He added all prisoner negotiations are done covertly, in a possible dig against Trump's decision to post his claim publicly on social media.

Peskov stated:

"As for communication on the issue of persons in custody, convicts, 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."

Either Trump is delusional about his foreign relations prowess and popularity with the Russian President or someone is lying.

Given the well-documented records of dishonesty by both Trump and Putin, the latter is a definite possibility.

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Democratic President Joe Biden's campaign spokesperson TJ Ducklo said in a statement to NBC News:

"Donald Trump doesn't give a damn about the innocent Americans unjustly imprisoned by Vladimir Putin."
"Trump has called journalists 'enemies of the people' and pledged to imprison reporters whose coverage he doesn't like – not all that dissimilar to what's happening right now to Evan Gershkovich in Russia."

Ducklo 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."
"Their release remains an urgent priority, just like it was for the 60 Americans who were wrongfully detained or taken hostage that President Biden has already brought home since taking office."

Trump previously told TIME magazine that only he could secure Gershkovich's release.

According to the Russian Federal Security Service (FSS), Gershkovich was arrested and detained in Yekaterinburg on espionage charges in March of 2023. FSS alleges the Wall Street Journal correspondent collected secret information about one of Russia’s defense industry enterprises.

Gershkovich—who maintains his innocence—faces up to 20 years in prison.