Europe

Resuming negotiations with Russia, U.S. offers prisoners “substantial” transactions

Secretary of State Antony Blinken has made a “substantial proposal” to Russia to free Americans, including basketball star Brittney Griner, as the United States has announced that it will speak to Moscow for the first time since the Ukrainian War. Said.

Blinken said in a phone call with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov that he was hoping for a proposal to release former Marines Paul Whelan and Greener.

Blinken told reporters that the pair was “illegally detained and must be allowed to return home.”

“We put a substantive proposal on the table a few weeks ago to facilitate their release. Our government has repeatedly contacted us directly about the proposal. I personally used the conversation. Follow up with, “he said.

Blinken refused to give details or confirm reports that the United States had offered to exchange with convicted Russian arms smuggler Viktor Bout because of its sensitivity. ..

The United States and Russia had already exchanged one prisoner in the midst of the Ukrainian war. In April, Washington exchanged former US Marine Corps Trevor Reed for convicted drug smuggler Constantin Yaroschenko.

President Joe Biden has faced up to 10 years in prison and is facing increasing pressure to release Greener, whose wife had previously accused him of being too underpowered.

Welan, a security guard at an auto parts company, was arrested in Moscow in December 2018 and sentenced to 16 years in prison for espionage in 2020, which he denied.

In a statement, Welan’s family thanked the Biden administration for their efforts and wanted Russia to “accept this or other concessions” for his freedom.

No negotiations about Ukraine

The telephone conversation between Blinken and Lavrov will be the first since February 15, when a top US diplomat warned Russia of an invasion of Ukraine.

President Vladimir Putin went ahead and attacked nine days later, imposing drastic sanctions on the United States and its allies, and sought to isolate Russia on the world stage.

Blinken told reporters that the conversation was “not a negotiation about Ukraine.”

“Any negotiations on Ukraine are decided by the people and the people,” he said.

Brinken said the United States, which has poured billions of dollars in military aid into Ukraine, is “no illusion” that Russia is ready to make “meaningful and constructive” efforts to end the war. Said.

“For the time being, we will continue to do everything we can to strengthen Ukraine’s position on the battlefield,” he said.

Brinken said he would call on Russia to implement a groundbreaking agreement reached in Turkey last week to allow the release of Ukrainian grain after the blockade caused global food prices to skyrocket.

“Hundreds of millions of people are waiting for these vessels to depart from Ukrainian ports,” Blinken said.

He also said he would warn of further consequences if Russia annexed more Ukrainian territories. In 2014 Moscow occupied the Crimean Peninsula and declared the peninsula part of Russia. This is an unrecognized decision in most of the world.

The White House recently said it was laying the groundwork for a “fake referendum” in areas seized by Russia, perhaps as early as September.

Blinken declined to meet with Lavrov when he attended a Group 20 meeting in Bali earlier this month. The United States has rallyed allies to criticize Russia in a private session.

Greener says he’s not going to break the law

Two-time Olympic basketball gold medalist and female NBA champion who played in Russia, Greener was detained a few days before Moscow launched the attack.

She pleaded guilty to the drug for possessing an arc cartridge containing hemp oil.

At a trial in Khimki, a suburb of Moscow, Greener said he still didn’t know how the cartridge came in the bag and wouldn’t use it.

“I had no idea or plan to bring the banned substance to Russia,” said Griner in a Phoenix Mercury T-shirt and black basketball trousers.

“I didn’t mean to break Russian law,” she added. She said she was packing in a hurry and she was tired after she recovered from Covid.

“I don’t do anything to hurt the team.”

https://www.themoscowtimes.com/2022/07/28/resuming-talks-with-russia-us-offers-substantial-deal-on-prisoners-a78423 Resuming negotiations with Russia, U.S. offers prisoners “substantial” transactions

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