WASHINGTON, August 12. /TASS/. Washington believes that it has made a ‘substantial proposal’ to Moscow regarding the exchange of detainees, and "the ball is in Russia’s court,’ a Department of State deputy spokesperson has told reporters.
"The US Government continues to urge Russia to release wrongful detainees Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan," said Vedant Patel, Principal Deputy Spokesperson of the Bureau of Global Public Affairs. "The administration <…> has been quite clear that there is a substantial proposal on the table to facilitate their release<…>. This proposal has been raised through appropriate channels. [US] Secretary [of State Antony] Blinken has been able to raise this directly with his counterpart, [Russian] Foreign Minister [Sergey] Lavrov. And ultimately, the ball is in Russia’s court."
In his words, US embassy staff were able to be in touch with Brittney Griner most recently on the day of her sentencing on August 4.
Earlier, Washington offered Moscow to exchange Russian businessman Viktor Bout, who is serving a prison term in the US for arms trafficking, for basketball player Brittney Griner, sentenced to jail for drugs trafficking, and Paul Whelan, convicted in Russia of spying. The exchange of prisoners was one of the topics discussed in a telephone conversation between Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in late July. American media reported later, citing unidentified sources, that Russia had proposed to include another Russian prisoner jailed in the West in the prisoner swap.