US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said he had a “frank and straightforward” telephone conversation with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov, during which the issues of the exchange of prisoners, the export of grain from Ukraine and military operations on its territory were touched upon. This was announced by CNN correspondent Kylie Atwood after attending a briefing at the State Department.
“I insisted that the Kremlin accept our offer to release Paul Whelan and Brittney Griner,” she quoted the secretary of state. According to her, Blinken also said that he had warned Lavrov about “sanctions in the event that Russia annexes Ukrainian territories.”
Russian Foreign Ministry published press release following the conversation, noting that it took place at the initiative of the American side.
The Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Blinken and Lavrov “discussed the current situation in Ukraine”, and during this discussion, the Russian Foreign Minister “outlined Russia’s principled approaches” regarding the hostilities on Ukrainian territory and stressed that “the goals and objectives of the special military operation will be fully implemented.”
Lavrov also drew Blinken’s attention to the responsibility of the United States and NATO for the “continued pumping of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and national battalions” with weapons that “are used on a large scale against the civilian population, only prolonging the agony of the regime in Kyiv, prolonging the conflict and multiplying the victims.”
The head of the Russian Foreign Ministry stressed that the Russian military “strictly comply with the norms of international law,” and in the Ukrainian territories they control, “a system has been established for returning to civilian life.”
“Regarding the possible exchange of imprisoned citizens of Russia and the United States, the Russian side has urged to return to the mode of professional, without speculative information stuffing, dialogue in the mode of “quiet diplomacy,” the press release of the Foreign Ministry says.
The press release of the Russian Foreign Ministry on the conversation also says that during it Lavrov informed Blinken about the details of the “package” agreement on the export of Ukrainian grain and the “promotion” of the export of food products and fertilizers of Russian production. The head of the Russian Foreign Ministry stressed that US sanctions complicate the situation and have not yet been eased in accordance with the promises made by Washington.
“It was pointed out that the use of this problem by the “collective West” in their geopolitical interests is unacceptable. An exchange of views was held on the issues of bilateral relations that are in dire need of normalization, ”the Russian Foreign Ministry summed up the story of Blinken’s conversation with Lavrov.
The conversation took place at the request of Washington, done the day before. A day earlier, CNN, citing sources in the White House informedthat the American side offered Russia to exchange Viktor Bout, who is serving time in the United States, for basketball player Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan convicted of espionage. Press Secretary of the Russian President Dmitry Peskov after that declaredthat Moscow and Washington are not discussing this issue.