U.S. Wants to Start Negotiation with Russia

Written by Jeppe W

Dec.22 - 2023 10:11 AM CET

Photo: Shutterstock.com
Photo: Shutterstock.com

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The White House is actively developing a new proposal aimed at securing the release of two Americans currently imprisoned in Russia, following Moscow's rejection of an initial offer, according to Yahoo News.

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby disclosed the ongoing efforts during a press briefing, emphasizing the U.S. government's commitment to bringing the detainees home.

The two Americans at the center of these diplomatic negotiations are Wall Street Journal correspondent Evan Gershkovich and former Marine Paul Whelan.

Gershkovich, arrested in Yekaterinburg on charges of espionage vehemently denied by both him and his employer, is the first Western journalist to be accused of such a crime since the Soviet era.

Whelan, arrested in Moscow in 2018 while working in security for a U.S. vehicle parts company, is serving a 16-year sentence on spying charges, which the U.S. government contests as unfounded.

In a recent BBC interview, Whelan expressed his distress and feeling of abandonment by the U.S. government. His family also reported an incident in November where he was physically assaulted by another prisoner.

Kirby acknowledged the severity of Whelan's situation and assured that the U.S. embassy in Moscow is working diligently to ensure his consular access and address these concerns with Russian authorities.

The new proposal's specifics remain undisclosed, but Kirby's comments indicate a serious and ongoing effort to negotiate the Americans' release.

This development comes in the wake of a successful prisoner swap between the United States and Venezuela, which saw 10 Americans return in exchange for an ally of President Nicolas Maduro.