Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Russia and the US are coordinating the timing for a call with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in regard to a potential prisoner swap, acknowledging his government has received an official request, according to Russia’s state news agency RIA Novosti.
The contact "should happen when I’m in my office," Lavrov said while on a visit to Tashkent, Uzbekistan, on Friday.
“Obviously, it is unlikely to happen today, but in the coming days we will offer our American colleagues a suitable date,” Lavrov said.
"If we are talking about an exchange of prisoners, about an exchange of people who are detained in Russia and the United States, we have already commented on behalf of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that this topic was considered more than a year ago at the Geneva meeting in June 2021 between Presidents Putin and Biden. There, they agreed to authorize the competent people to deal with these issues. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is not one of them. But still, I will listen to what he has to say," Lavrov added.
On Thursday, Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said Lavrov will “pay attention” to the US State Department request to speak with Blinken when “time permits," according to RIA Novosti.
Some background: Biden administration officials are frustrated that Moscow has yet to respond in a meaningful way to their “substantial proposal” to try to free two detained Americans, Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan – a deal which includes a trade for convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, as CNN exclusively reported Wednesday.
That proposal was presented to Russia weeks ago, Blinken said when publicly announcing it Wednesday. Administration officials told CNN that they felt Moscow would jump at the offer, but it is now almost August and they have not received a substantive response, officials say.
On Thursday, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitri Peskov confirmed that “so far, there is no agreement on this issue.”
Frustration at Russia’s lack of substantive response to the deal was an underlying factor in the administration’s decision to publicize that an agreement from the US is on the table.
CNN's Uliana Pavlova, Kylie Atwood and Kaitlan Collins contributed reporting to this post.