Zakharova responded with the phrase “how interesting” to Blinken’s words about Lavrov

PForeign Ministry spokeswoman Zakharova said that Lavrov and Blinken did not discuss the topic of Paul Whelan After a short meeting between Lavrov and Blinken on the sidelines of the G20 session, the latter said that he discussed, among other things, the problem of Paul Whelan arrested for espionage in Russia. Zakharova said that the US Secretary of State “did not stutter on this score”

Zakharova with the phrase

Anthony Blinken

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov did not discuss with US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken the topic of the American Paul Whelan convicted on charges of espionage, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said.

“Oh, how interesting. I checked with Sergey Viktorovich, Blinken raised the topic of Whelan yesterday. It turned out that the US Secretary of State did not even stutter on this score. Everything that was said yesterday in the State Department about Blinken expressing concern about the situation around a US citizen is a lie, she wrote in Telegram.

Lavrov and Blinken spoke on March 2 “on the move” during a session of the G20 foreign ministers’ meeting in New Delhi. After that, Blinken said that he had discussed the problem of Paul Whelan with the Russian minister, CNN reported. He also said that the United States had made a “serious offer” for an American whom Washington hopes to exchange, and that Moscow should accept it.

Whelan was detained in Moscow in December 2018. He was charged under Article 276 of the Criminal Code (“Espionage”). In June 2020, the Moscow City Court sentenced him to 16 years in a strict regime colony. In recent years, the United States has been seeking Whelan’s exchange.

The first face-to-face conversation between Lavrov and Blinken after the start of the conflict in Ukraine lasted about ten minutes, writes Reuters. The agency’s source in the White House clarified that Blinken called during the conversation to reconsider the decision to suspend Russia’s participation in the Strategic Offensive Arms Reduction Treaty (STCW). He also assured Lavrov that the United States will continue to help Ukraine for as long as Kiev needs it.

The conversation took place at the initiative of the American side, the official representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Maria Zakharova pointed out. The representative of the US State Department, Ned Price, said after the meeting that Washington would not apologize for the conversation. “I know our Russian colleagues are trying to make a fuss out of this. But it is important to note from our side that it was a short contact, not a full-fledged bilateral meeting or a lengthy conversation between them. We will not apologize for this,” Price noted.

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Sergey Lavrov

diplomat, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia

March 21, 1950

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