RUSSIA + UKRAINE

Former Gov. Bill Richardson held meetings in Moscow this week with Russian leadership

Sep 14, 2022, 9:00 AM
Former U.S. diplomat Bill Richardson, seen here in November 2021, and his team were in Moscow this ...
Former U.S. diplomat Bill Richardson, seen here in November 2021, and his team were in Moscow this week and held meetings with Russian leadership. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

(CNN) — Former Gov. Bill Richardson and his team were in Moscow this week and held meetings with Russian leadership, CNN has learned.

The details around those meetings were not immediately clear. Richardson, the former New Mexico governor and diplomat, and his namesake center privately work on behalf of families of hostages and detainees, and the trip comes as the Biden administration works to free two Americans whom the State Department have classified as wrongfully detained: Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan.

A spokesperson for the Richardson Center told CNN on Tuesday that “at this point we are not able to comment on this.”

CNN reported in mid-July that Richardson had been expected to travel to the Russian capital.

Asked about Richardson’s trip, a senior Biden administration official told CNN that anyone “who’s going to Russia is going as a private citizen and they don’t speak for the US government.”

The Biden administration has repeatedly said that working to secure Griner and Whelan’s release, as well as that of Americans wrongfully detained abroad, is a top priority. In late July, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced that the US had put forward a “substantial proposal” to try to secure the release of Griner and Whelan. Sources told CNN that proposal included a swap for convicted arms dealer Viktor Bout.

“We’ve made a significant offer through the same channels we used for (Trevor) Reed” — another American who was freed from Russian detention as part of a prisoner swap in April — “and we’ve followed up on that offer repeatedly,” the senior administration official said Tuesday.

Richardson has long worked to free Americans detained abroad, and he played a role in securing Reed’s release, according to a source familiar with the situation. That source told CNN that members of the Richardson Center had traveled to Moscow in February, in the days immediately before the Russian war in Ukraine began, to meet with Russian leadership. Following that visit, the Richardson Center came away with a clear sense of what the Russians were willing to do and how they were willing to do it, which was presented to the White House.

Last week, State Department principal deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel said that “the US Government continues to urge Russia to release wrongfully detained individuals Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan.”

“As you all know, the Secretary came and spoke to you all a number of weeks ago, where he was clear that there was a substantial proposal on the table weeks ago to facilitate their release, and our governments have communicated repeatedly and directly on that proposal,” he said.

Today’s Top Stories

Russia + Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin (C) with Ukrainian separatist regional leaders Vladimir Saldo (L),...
Olga Voitovych and Joshua Berlinger, CNN

Russian Parliament begins process to rubber-stamp annexations as Moscow struggles to define borders

Despite there being no set boundaries, Russia's parliament began the process of approving Vladmir Putin's decision to annex part of Ukraine.
1 day ago
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin extremism...
Ellie Kaufman, CNN

Defense secretary condemns ‘nuclear saber-rattling’ but says he doesn’t believe Putin has decided to use nuclear weapons

While U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin hasn't seen anything to suggest Russia has decided to use nuclear weapons, he did condemn nuclear saber-rattling
4 days ago
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a Security Council meeting in the Kremlin in Moscow,...
Joshua Berlinger, CNN

Putin announces Russia will annex four regions of Ukraine

The annexation announcement follows so-called referendums in the regions that were universally dismissed as "a sham" by Ukraine and Western nations.
5 days ago
A service member of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic walks past a banner on the doors ...
Anna Chernova, Joshua Berlinger and Rob Picheta, CNN

Putin to host ceremony annexing occupied Ukrainian territories on Friday, Kremlin says

Some of the separatist leaders involved in carrying out sham referendums to secede from Ukraine and join Russia landed in Moscow Thursday, according to a photograph posted by the Russia-appointed deputy head of the Kherson regional military administration Kirill Stremousov.
6 days ago
(AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)...
Jennifer Hansler, CNN

US Embassy warns Americans to leave Russia

 (CNN) — The U.S. Embassy in Moscow issued a security alert overnight that urged U.S. citizens to leave Russia immediately while there are still options for departing the country. The alert comes in the wake of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s order for partial mobilization of Russian men to fight in his war in Ukraine. “Russia […]
7 days ago
Riot police detain a demonstrator during a protest against mobilization in Moscow, Russia, Wednesda...
Simone McCarthy, Matthew Chance, Tim Lister, Anna Chernova and Mick Krever, CNN

Tearful scenes and protest as mobilization gets underway in Russia

The first phase of Russia's mobilization began on Thursday as videos surfaced of tearful families saying goodbye to men who were getting ready to be deployed.
12 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Young woman receiving laser treatment...
Form Derm Spa

How facial plastic surgery and skincare are joining forces

Facial plastic surgery is not only about looking good but about feeling good too. The medical team at Form Spa are trained to help you reach your aesthetic outcomes through surgery and through skincare and dermatology, too.
large group of friends tohether in a park having fun...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

What differentiates BYU’s MBA program from other MBA programs

Commitment to service is at the heart of BYU’s MBA program, which makes it stand out among other MBA programs across the country.
a worker with a drill in an orange helmet installs a door in the house...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

Home improvement tip: Increase the value of your home by weatherproofing doors

Make sure your home is comfortable before the winter! Seasonal maintenance keeps your home up to date. Read our tips on weatherproofing doors.
Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
A paper reading IRS, internal revenue service is pictured...
Jordan Wilcox

The best strategies for dealing with IRS tax harassment | You have options!

Learn how to deal with IRS tax harassment. This guide will teach you how to stop IRS phone calls and letters, and how to handle an IRS audit.
spend a day at Bear Lake...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

You’ll love spending the day at Bear Lake | How to spend a day at Bear Lake

Bear Lake is a place that needs to be experienced. Spend a day at Bear Lake.
Former Gov. Bill Richardson held meetings in Moscow this week with Russian leadership