US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke Friday with Russian Overseas Minister Sergei Lavrov of their first contact for the reason that Ukraine struggle, saying he pressed him to simply accept a proposal on releasing two Individuals held in Russia.
“We had a frank and direct dialog. I pressed the Kremlin to simply accept the substantial proposal that we put ahead,” Blinken advised reporters.
Blinken stated on Wednesday he deliberate to contact Lavrov in a bid to free two Individuals, basketball star Brittney Griner and former Marine Paul Whelan, and push ahead a proposal issued a number of weeks earlier.
The highest US diplomat declined to characterize Lavrov’s response, saying, “I can not provide you with an evaluation of whether or not I feel issues are any roughly doubtless.”
“Nevertheless it was essential that he heard immediately,” Blinken stated.
The proposal reportedly contains swapping the 2 Individuals, whose plight has drawn rising consideration, for convicted Russian arms smuggler Viktor Bout.
Blinken stated he additionally pressed Lavrov on Russia honoring a Turkish-brokered proposal to ship grain out of Ukraine and on purported plans by Moscow to annex extra elements of Ukraine seized by Russian troops.
Blinken stated he advised Lavrov that “the world won’t ever acknowledge annexation” and that Russia could be hit by extra ramifications.
“It was essential that the Russians hear immediately from us that that won’t be accepted — and never solely will it not be accepted, it is going to end in extra important prices being imposed upon Russia,” Blinken stated.
Blinken stated Russia was getting ready “sham referendums” to attempt to “falsely show that the individuals in these elements of Ukraine one way or the other search to turn into a part of Russia.”
The votes could be a part of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s goal of “gobbling up as a lot Ukrainian territory as he can,” he added.
The phone dialog was the primary between Blinken and Lavrov since February 15, when the highest US diplomat warned Russia in opposition to invading Ukraine.
Putin went forward and attacked 9 days later, main the US and its allies to impose sweeping sanctions and to hunt to isolate Russia on the world stage.