Russian Chancellor said Moscow should propose a time to discuss the situation with Secretary Anthony Blinken
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said this Friday (July 29, 2022) that he should talk to US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken to discuss the situation of Americans imprisoned in Russia.
The Biden administration proposed the exchange of Viktor Bout, a Russian arms dealer sentenced to 25 years in prison in the US, for two Americans detained in Russia: athlete Brittney Griner and ex-military Paul Whelan. The information is from CNN.
A conversation between Lavrov and Blinken hasn’t taken place since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but the pressure to release US prisoners could change that.
The Russian chancellor told journalists that negotiations on the former soldier’s case began in 2021 during a summit in Geneva. In it, Presidents Vladimir Putin and Joe Biden agreed to designate officials to handle the case.
Lavrov stated that he was not involved in the matter, but that “will listen” what Blinken has to say.
“It is clear that this is unlikely to work today. But in the coming days we will offer our American colleagues a convenient date.”he told reporters during a trip to Uzbekistan.
The Secretary of State announced on Wednesday (27.Jul.2022) that the US presented a “substantial proposal” to Moscow “weeks ago” to free Whelan and Griner. The country considers that both were unfairly detained.
Griner, 31 years old, was arrested in February at Moscow airport. According to Russian customs, the athlete was carrying a vaper which contained hashish, a derivative of cannabis. Russian law stipulates that the punishment can be up to 10 years in prison.
With two Olympic gold medals, Griner is a renowned basketball player. In July, the athlete confessed that she entered the airport with drugs.
Paul Whelan is a former military man arrested in 2018 for alleged espionage. He denies the charge.