Perhaps Mr. Gershkovich was seized as a pawn to swap for Russians held in the West, as the American basketball player Brittney Griner was in 2022. Perhaps it was because Mr. Gershkovich’s parents are Russian Jews who emigrated in the 1970s, so Mr. Putin views him, as he views Ukraine, as within his sphere of repression.

As the first anniversary of Mr. Gershkovich’s incarceration approaches, there is no evidence of a potential trade, though Mr. Putin did suggest last month that it could…


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