While speaking to journalists at the United Nations on April 25, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov attempted to justify Russia detaining two U.S. citizens, CNN reported.
"In the Russian Federation, there are several American citizens who are serving sentences for various crimes," Lavrov said.
"I refer to (former U.S. Marine) Paul Whelan and (Wall Street Journal reporter) Evan Gershkovich. They were detained when they were committing a crime: receiving material that was a state secret. And the vociferous, pathos-laced statements about journalists by definition not being able to commit crimes is something which we reject."
On April 2, the U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken called for the “immediate release” of Gershkovich and Whelan during a phone call with Lavrov.
A Moscow court denied Gershkovich's appeal of his pre-detention terms on April 18. Gershkovich was arrested in Yekaterinburg while working on a story about the Russian state-backed Wagner mercenary group recruiting locals, as well as Russian citizens' views on the invasion of Ukraine.
While he addressed journalists at the UN, Lavrov went on to claim that approximately 60 Russian nationals were being detained by the U.S. under "dubious" accusations "in most cases."
Russia was chosen to head the UN Security Council, the presidency of which rotates on a monthly basis between 15 member states, for the month of April.
Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, in late March, called Russia's UNSC presidency a "bad joke" and said that the world "can't be a safe place" with Russia as head of the UN Security Council.
During his address to the UN Security Council on April 24, Lavrov went on a tirade against Western countries, in particular the U.S., which he said is "aiming for the destruction of globalization" and wants to "undermine multilateralism" in the Asia-Pacific.