U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken says he will be speaking with his Russian counterpart in the coming days for the first time since Russia invaded Ukraine.
Secretary Blinken told reporters at the State Department Wednesday his conversation with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will not be a negotiation about Ukraine.
While the war will certainly be discussed, also on the agenda is a U.S. proposal for the release of two Americans held in Moscow – professional basketball player Brittney Griner and former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan.
“We’re very focused on getting Brittney and Paul home,” he said. “At the same time, I’m also focused, every single day, on arbitrarily detained Americans in more than half a dozen countries around the world.”
Blinken and White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby would not confirm reports Washington is proposing to Moscow the swap of convicted arms dealer Viktor Bout for the two Americans. The Russian is serving a 25-year prison sentence in the United States on charges of conspiring to kill Americans, illegally exporting anti-aircraft missiles and providing material support to a terrorist organization.