Jul 27, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Blinken: U.S. has offered Russia a deal to bring home Griner and Whelan

United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken attend a press conference at the Federal Foreign Office on June 24, 2022.
United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken attends a press conference at the Federal Foreign Office on June 24. Photo: Mika Savolainen-Pool/Getty Images

The Biden administration has offered Russia a "substantial proposal" to bring home WNBA star Brittney Griner and former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday.

Driving the news: "We put a substantial proposal on the table weeks ago to facilitate their release," Blinken said of the two Americans, who he said are "wrongfully detained."

  • Blinken also said Wednesday that he plans to speak with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov "in the coming days."
  • "Our governments have communicated repeatedly and directly on that proposal and I'll use the conversation to follow up personally, and I hope move us toward a resolution," he said.

State of play: Blinken's remarks are the first time the Biden administration has publicly announced a concrete action to secure the release of Griner, AP reports.

Catch up quick: Whelan was sentenced by a Russian court to 16 years in prison in 2020 on spying charges that he and his family said are false.

  • Griner was arrested at a Moscow airport in February after Russian authorities said they found a vape cartridge with hashish oil in her luggage.

What they're saying: "We think making it clear that there is an actual proposal made, that there is something tangible on the table is important context for the world to know about the United States seriousness with which we will which we will try to get our citizens back home," John Kirby, the White House National Security Council’s coordinator for strategic communications, said at the White House Press Briefing on Wednesday.

Go deeper... Blinken to speak to Russia's Lavrov for first time since Ukraine invasion

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