Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday held a call with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, to discuss Evan Gershkovich, a reporter for The Wall Street Journal and US citizen who was detained in Russia last week over spying allegations.
According to a State Department readout of the call, Blinken expressed the US’s “grave concern over Russia’s unacceptable detention of a US citizen journalist” and called for his “immediate release.”
According to the Russian side, Lavrov told Blinken that a Russian court will decide Gershkovich’s fate. “In light of the established evidence of the US national’s illegal activities, his future will be determined by court,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) claimed that Gershkovich, “acting at the behest of the American side, collected information constituting a state secret about the activities of an enterprise within Russia’s military-industrial complex.” The Wall Street Journal and the US government have strongly denied the Russian allegations.
In his call with Lavrov, Blinken also raised the issue of Paul Whelan, a former US Marine who was arrested on spying charges in Moscow in 2018. The State Department said the two diplomats also discussed “the importance of creating an environment that permits diplomatic missions to carry out their work.”
The call marks only the third time Blinken has spoken with his Russian counterpart since Moscow launched its invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022. The last time they talked was for a brief 10-minute chat on the sidelines of a G20 meeting in New Delhi at the beginning of March.