Blinken and Lavrov’s call was the first between the two officials since the start of the war in Ukraine, the secretary of state said earlier this week.
“By having a substantial offer on the table, we’re being clear and transparent about whats happening,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Friday. “Those conversations will continue.”
Griner, a WNBA star, is on trial in Russia after she was arrested in Moscow in February when officials found cannabis oil in her luggage. She admitted she had the oil when she arrived in Russia, but maintains she had no criminal intent.
Whelan, a former Marine, was arrested in December 2018 for espionage. He was sentenced to 16 years in Russian prison a year and a half later, a result which observers say violated his human rights.
During the call, Blinken also urged Russia to follow through on its commitments to end the blockade of Ukrainian ports, in order to allow grain exports. He reiterated his concern over Russia’s potential annexation of additional parts of Ukraine – or, as he put it, Putin “gobbling up as much Ukrainian territory as he can”.