WASHINGTON, July 29. /TASS/. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov held a telephone conversation on Friday, as Blinken himself told reporters.
"Earlier today, I spoke with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov. We had a frank and direct conversation. I pressed the Kremlin to accept the substantial proposal that we put forth on the release of Paul Whelan and Brittney Griner," the US top diplomat pointed out, referring to Washington’s proposal to exchange US nationals Whelan and Griner for Russian businessman Viktor Bout.
The parties also discussed an agreement on the creation of a humanitarian corridor for Ukrainian grain exports across the Black Sea. "I also emphasized that the world expects Russia to fulfill its commitments under the deal it reached with Ukraine, Turkey and the United Nations on grain shipments from Ukraine," Blinken noted. "It is important and vital that Russia make good on the commitments it’s made to the world," the US secretary of state said.
According to Blinken, he highlighted Washington’s determination to impose additional sanctions on Moscow in case some Ukrainian regions join Russia. "The world will not recognize annexations. We will impose additional significant costs on Russia if it moves forward with its plans," he said.
Earlier, the Russian embassy in Washington strongly rejected the US view of the situation. The embassy pointed out in a statement that Russia was bringing peace to the liberated areas of Ukraine, creating normal living conditions and ensuring equal rights for all.