Russia has received a request from the US to arrange a telephone call between the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, and his US counterpart, Antony Blinken, the head of Russian diplomacy confirmed today.
“We learned about it (Blinken’s desire to hold a phone call) when we were (on tour) in Africa. He went on television saying that he wants to talk to me. About a day later the official request came,” Lavrov said Friday during a visit to Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan.
The Russian foreign minister said that Moscow will “soon” propose to Washington a date to organize the call with Blinken.
“Today it will hardly be possible, but in the next few days we are going to propose a convenient date to our American colleagues,” he said.
Blinken said Wednesday that Washington had offered Russia a “substantial proposal” to exchange two Americans detained on Russian soil, Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan, for Russian Viktor But, known as “the merchant of death.”
Blinken also pointed out that he plans to speak in the coming days with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, in what will be the first conversation between the two since the conflict with Ukraine broke out on February 24.
Moscow later specified that it had not yet received a formal request from the US side to organize this talk.
The Kremlin, in turn, was surprised by the diffusion of the topic announced by Blinken to discuss it with Lavrov, since it is a matter that does not admit “leaks to the press”.
“Usually the agreements already reached are made known,” said the spokesman for the Russian Presidency, Dmitri Peskov.
Griner is a basketball player who is accused of drug possession and smuggling. The double world and Olympic champion with her country was arrested last February at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport after customs officials found cannabis oil, a prohibited substance in Russia, among her belongings.
Whelan is a former Marine arrested by agents of the Federal Security Service (FSB, former KGB) in a Moscow hotel in 2018 and sentenced to 16 years in prison after being found guilty of “espionage activities” in favor of the United States.
But is serving 25 years in prison in the US, among other things, for plotting to kill US citizens and selling weapons to the former Colombian FARC guerrilla organization.