US Secretary of State Antony Blinken revealed publicly for the first time on Thursday that the United States has put forward a “serious proposal” to secure the release of Paul Whelan, wrongfully detained from Russia.
US officials have long stressed their commitment to bringing home Whelan, who has been detained in Russia since 2018, but the public disclosure that a deal is on the table marks a notable advance in those efforts.
In a “brief meeting” with Sergey Lavrov on the sidelines of the G20 foreign ministers’ meeting on Thursday, Blinken said he lobbied the Russian foreign minister over Whelan’s detention and the offer.
“The United States has presented a serious proposal. Moscow should accept it,” Blinken said at a news conference after the meeting with Lavrov.
State Department spokesman Ned Price said Thursday that this was “not a proposal that the Russians were hearing for the first time today.”
Price declined to elaborate on that proposal, but said it was one “that we have consistently conveyed to you in the past.”
“We have conveyed in some detail, with all the necessary details to the Russian Federation, the proposal that we have put on the table,” Price said at a department briefing. “We’ve done this relentlessly, we’ve done this creatively, looking to do everything we can to see Paul Whelan released.”
Price did not say whether the Russian government had committed to that proposal.