Jul 29, 2022 - World

Blinken urged Russia to accept proposal for release of Griner and Whelan

Secretary of State Antony Blinken delivers opening remarks with during the US-Japan Economic Policy Consultative Committee (EPCC) meeting at the State Department in Washington, DC, July 29, 2022
Secretary of State Antony Blinken delivers opening remarks during the U.S.-Japan Economic Policy Consultative Committee meeting at the State Department on July 29. Photo: Tom Brenner/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Secretary of State Tony Blinken said Friday that he spoke with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and urged him to accept a "substantial proposal" on the release of two detained Americans in Russia, Paul Whelan and Brittney Griner.

Driving the news: "We had a frank and direct conversation," Blinken said Friday of the discussion. "I pressed the Kremlin to accept the substantial proposal that we put forth on the release of Paul Whelan and Brittney Griner."

  • Blinken also said that he told Lavrov that "the world expects Russia to fulfill its commitments under the deal it reached with Ukraine, Turkey and the United Nations on grain shipments from Ukraine."

The big picture: It was the pair's first conversation since Russia's invasion of Ukraine began on Feb. 24.

  • Blinken said earlier this week that the U.S. made a proposal to Russia for the release of Griner, who was detained for bringing cannabis oil into the country in her luggage, and former Marine Paul Whelan, who is being held on espionage charges.
  • Blinken earlier this week also said that he would urge Russia to "make good on the commitments they made" to ease a Black Sea blockade and resume Ukrainian grain exports, Axios' Dave Lawler reports.
  • Russia conducted missile strikes on Ukraine's largest port, Odessa, one day after signing the long-awaited agreement.

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

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