The prisoner exchange between the US and Russia for Brittney Griner and Viktor Bout was secured by joint mediation between UAE and Saudi Arabia, the countries said in a statement.
“The joint statement issued by the [Saudi Arabian and the UAE] ministries affirmed that the success of the mediation efforts is a reflection of the mutual and solid friendship that connects both countries with the United States of America, and the Russian Federation."
The prisoner exchange was completed successfully at Abu Dhabi Airport on Thursday, the Russian foreign ministry said earlier Thursday.. US President Joe Biden expressed his gratitude to the UAE for its role in the swap in remarks at the White House.
The statement confirmed that Abu Dhabi received Griner by private plane from Moscow after the Russian authorities released her, in conjunction with the reception of Bout on a private plane from Washington after the US authorities released him, in the presence of specialists from the UAE and Saudi Arabia.
"Both America and Russia claimed their citizens, in preparation for transfer to their countries," the statement said. "The UAE and Saudi Arabian foreign ministries expressed the thanks of their respective governments to the governments of the US and Russia for their cooperation and response, and for the joint mediation efforts made by the leaderships of the two countries."
A senior Emirati official told CNN the exchange of Griner and Bout was done at al Bateen airport in Abu Dhabi, which is an executive airport. Griner took off at approximately 9 a.m. ET just after Bout's flight left.
The decision was discussed when UAE President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in October. They also spoke about it and other issues on a call Wednesday.