The Biden administration has recently put forth a new and significant offer in an attempt to secure the release of American detainees Paul Whelan and Evan Gershkovich. Unfortunately, Russia has rejected this offer, according to the State Department's spokesman, Matthew Miller.
While the specifics of the proposal and the reasons for Russia's rejection are not disclosed, the fact that Washington is actively engaging in negotiations with Moscow to bring both men home is evident.
Miller emphasizes that the proposal was a recent development and holds great importance. He further adds, "And it was rejected by the Russians but it does not, it will not deter us from continuing to do everything we can to try and bring both of them home."
The U.S. government has unequivocally stated that both Whelan and Gershkovich are being wrongfully detained.
Whelan, a corporate security executive from Michigan, has been imprisoned in Russia since December 2018 on espionage-related charges. The validity of these charges is disputed by both Whelan and the U.S. government. He was subsequently sentenced to 16 years in prison.
Miller emphasizes the unjust nature of their arrests and asserts, "They never should have been arrested in the first place. They should be released immediately." Despite Russia's rejection of the latest proposal, he assures that the U.S. government continues to make numerous proposals, including a significant one in recent weeks. The commitment to bringing Whelan and Gershkovich home remains unwavering. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has made this their highest priority, with the full support of the President.
In July 2022, Secretary of State Blinken revealed that a substantial proposal had been made to Moscow regarding the release of WNBA star Brittney Griner and Whelan. While Griner was eventually released in December, as part of a prisoner exchange with notorious Russian arms trafficker Viktor Bout, Whelan was not included in the deal.