What would happen if online blackmailers targeted the lifeline of the Russian economy, oil exports?

U.S. President Joe Biden said he put the question to President Vladimir Putin in Geneva.

A good question that Putin certainly knew how to interpret correctly.

The so-called Russian iron wire tip.

Biden’s second question concerned Michael Calvey, an American businessman awaiting his sentence in Moscow, who is suspected of being staged as a financial criminal as part of a power struggle.

- I asked, do you want American business to invest?

Let him go.

American businessmen currently do not want to hang out in Moscow, Biden said he told Putin.


The game of great power destroys the lives of many random people.

It is also a good question, because it sums up one of the differences between countries.

Putin can instruct his own oligarchs to go abroad, but American businessmen in the free world will only come to Russia if they feel safe.

Criminal suspicions against Michael Calvey have shocked and frightened many foreign businessmen operating in Russia.

Photo: REUTERS / Evgenia Novozhenina

The harsh wording says it all that Biden and Putin may still speak a language they both understand.

After the meeting, they hinted that the exchange of prisoners between the countries could take place later this year.

Calvey is one potential exchangeable person, although from an official U.S. perspective, he is one of the “hostages” that Russia is using to blackmail its own citizens.

Calvey is facing up to ten years in prison in Russia for alleged fraud against Artyom Avetisyan, a businessman close to Putin.

Biden said he also brought up “illegally detained” Americans Paul Whelan and Trevor Reed.

Whelan is serving a 16-year sentence for espionage.

Whelan's fate befell a friend he became acquainted with on his first trip to Russia in 2006, who unexpectedly came to meet him in a hotel room in Moscow in December 2018. The man was followed by detainees, and the friend was revealed to be an FSB agent himself.

Reed, for his part, is serving a nine-year sentence in Russia.

He was not convicted of espionage, but of alleged violent opposition by police after he had lost his memory after being drunk heavily at a Moscow birthday party.

Both Trevor Reed and Paul Whelan are former U.S. Marines, which is why the Russian security service has been interested in them from the beginning.


Russia, in turn, is known to demand at least three people free from the United States.

They are Viktor Bout, convicted of illicit arms trafficking, Konstantin Yaroshenko, convicted of drug trafficking, and Roman Seleznjov, convicted of cybercrime.

The U.S. legal system is not the most ideal in the world, but the evidence against the trio is still very different from Calvey, Whelan, and Reed.

Russia has also speculated as to whether opposition leader Alexei Navalny could be involved in the preparatory exchange of prisoners.

According to press secretary Dmitry Peskov, you could, of course, but only on a couple of terms.

- If Americans officially confirm that he is a U.S. citizen and works for the intelligence services.

Not in any other way, Peskov announced.

The paranoia and stakes in the game of great power are great, and on that side the lives of many random people will be destroyed. Hopefully no Finn will ever be a part of such a game.