Vladimir Putin, through his spokesperson, is talking about Brittney Griner's imprisonment for the first time ... refuting the charge the WNBA star is a political prisoner, saying she's locked up because she violated Russian law.
31-year-old Griner has been behind barssince February after Russian officials say she attempted to bring hashish oil into the country. The U.S., however, characterized her detainment as being politically motivated.
In other words, America believes Griner's being used as a bargaining chip ... as relations between Russia and America (and the West in general) are incredibly strained with war raging in Ukraine.
But, Dmitry Peskov, Putin's mouthpiece, told NBC News Brittney's detainment is simple -- she broke the law, and is being held accountable just like "hundreds and hundreds of Russian citizens that were sentenced for carrying hashish."
Peskov then asked ... "Why should we make an exemption for a foreign citizen?"
Putin's spokesperson also said there are many Americans living legally in Russia.
"[Griner] violated Russian law, and now she’s being prosecuted," Peskov said.
"It’s not about being a hostage. There are lots of American citizens here. They’re enjoying their freedoms … but you have to obey the laws."
Despite Russia's latest claim ... it's likely it'll do little to change the minds of Griner's family, friends, and fans -- and the United States government -- who almost all believe her detainment is motivated by geopolitical issues ... rather than a relatively minor drug infraction.