US Secretary of State Antony Bliken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov spoke by telephone for the first time since February. Photo/Illustration/Sindonews
These are the first talks involving the two countries’ top diplomats since Russia launched its invasion of neighboring Ukraine in February.
Calling it an honest and direct conversation, Blinken said he encouraged Lavrov to accept the substantial US proposal to release detained Americans Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan.
“I urge the Kremlin to accept the substantial proposals we put forward regarding the release of Paul Whelan and Brittney Griner. I will not characterize the response and I cannot give you an assessment of whether I think things are more or less likely,” Blinken said. ABC NewsSaturday (30/7/2022).
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Regarding Russia’s stated plan to annex parts of Ukraine, Blinken said he told Lavrov that the plan would never be accepted.
“The world will not recognize annexation. We will incur significant additional costs on Russia if it goes ahead with its plans,” he stressed.
Blinken reiterated that their call did not include peace brokers in Ukraine.
“Unfortunately, tragically, we don’t see any openness — a willingness on the Russian side to engage meaningfully in ending the aggression,” Blinken lamented.
“At the same time, I also say that if there is an issue where we can make a difference in Russia seniors who hear directly from me or from colleagues, of course we will pursue it.”