Moscow has confirmed a phone conversation between the two top diplomats
https://www.rt.com/-US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (L) and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (R). © Getty Images / Russian Foreign Ministry
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has spoken to the US State Secretary Antony Blinken by phone on Friday, the Russian Foreign Ministry has confirmed. The two top diplomats discussed the grain export deal, the ongoing conflict in Ukraine and a potential prisoner exchange between the two nations, the ministry added.
Earlier on Friday, Blinken told a news briefing that he had “a frank and direct conversation” with the Russian minister and “pressed the Kremlin to accept the substantial proposal that we put forth on the release of Paul Whelan and Brittney Griner.”
The WNBA star Brittney Griner and former Marine Paul Whelan are currently both in Russian custody. Griner was arrested on drug smuggling charges, and Whelan was jailed for espionage. CNN reported earlier they could be exchanged for the Russian arms dealer, Viktor Bout, who was sentenced to 25 years’ imprisonment by a Manhattan federal court in 2012 on charges of providing aid to a US-designated terrorist organization and conspiring to kill US nationals.
Moscow has not confirmed receiving any specific proposals on the matter from the US and instead said Lavrov urged the US to “return to professional dialogue in the form of ‘quiet diplomacy’ without any speculations.” The US State Department did not reveal any details about its “substantial proposal” and never mentioned Bout by name so far.