In an expected turn of events, Secretary of State Antony Blinken came out in public to accept that the United States has already made a trade offer in order to release WNBA star Brittney Griner. But there is a major catch from the United States that is probably making the process a little longer. They want more than one person in exchange for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, they are asking for Paul Whelan.
Back in 2020, Whelan was sentenced to 16 years in jail for espionage despite these claims being lebeled as false by the United States. Blinken confirmed he is sttempting to have a direct call with Sergei Lavrov, who is his Russian counterpart. The offer to make the call is currently being analyzed by Lavrov and will issue a response soon. This is the very first direct and public contact the United States makes with Russia since the Ukraine invasion.
What did Blinken say?
This is part of the information Blinken offered to the press and the folks at CNN broke as a story before anybody: “We communicated a substantial offer that we believe could be successful based on a history of conversations with the Russians. We communicated that a number of weeks ago, in June. It takes two to tango. We start all negotiations to bring home Americans held hostage or wrongfully detained with a bad actor on the other side.
“We start all of these with somebody who has taken a human being American and treated them as a bargaining chip. So in some ways, it’s not surprising, even if it’s disheartening, when those same actors don’t necessarily respond directly to our offers, don’t engage constructively in negotiations. The US presented a substantial proposal to Moscow weeks ago for Whelan and Griner.”