WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken spoke on Friday to his Russian counterpart, Sergey V. Lavrov, and pressed him to simply accept a proposal for the discharge of Brittney Griner and Paul N. Whelan, however reported no breakthrough.
Mr. Blinken advised reporters at a information convention that he had spoken to his Russian counterpart by cellphone, their first dialog since weeks earlier than Russia’s Feb 24. invasion of Ukraine. He didn’t instantly say how Mr. Lavrov responded.
Ms. Griner, a W.N.B.A. star who had been taking part in for a Russian workforce throughout the low season, is on trial in a Russian court docket and faces a sentence of as much as 10 years in jail on drug fees. The 31-year-old athlete was detained in a Moscow airport a few week earlier than Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, after customs officers found cannabis oil in her baggage.
Mr. Whelan, a former Marine and company safety government, was detained in 2018 in a Moscow resort, the place he had been staying for a buddy’s wedding ceremony. In 2020, a Russian court docket sentenced him to 16 years in jail for espionage, a cost that he and his household have denied.
The State Division has categorised each Mr. Whelan and Ms. Griner as “wrongfully detained.”
In response to an individual briefed on the matter, the Biden administration provided final month to commerce the Russian arms seller Viktor Bout, who’s at present serving a 25-year federal jail sentence in the USA, for Ms. Griner and Mr. Whelan.
Mr. Blinken additionally stated he pressed Mr. Lavrov to make good on a latest Russian settlement to permit the passage of Ukrainian grain from Black Sea ports, and warned him that the world would by no means settle for the additional Russian annexation of Ukrainian territory.