Tomorrow will be the 1,600th day since the Kremlin took Paul hostage [5/15/2023]. I am sure no one in our family expected that he would still be a Russian prisoner after so long. When this started, the only examples we had were Daniloff's 16 days and Pope's 253 days.
We learned from Paul that the prison refused to accept items from Ambassador Tracy and the consular staff during their visit on May 4. They had brought books and mail and both were rejected, for unknown reasons. This was the first time in a long time that the prison had refused to accept something brought by the US Embassy.
Paul is being badgered by the prison warden and his staff to participate in Kremlin propaganda. An RT video crew is being sent to IK-17 soon and Paul believes he is going to be forced to be interviewed. I'd like to see them try but it is a terrible position for someone who is imprisoned to be put in. I expect refusing an order to be interviewed may result in other punishment, like solitary confinement or having incoming mail withheld.
Unfortunately, Paul doesn't have a lot of options. It has been nearly six months since Secretary Blinken made clear that a proposal had been made to the Kremlin for Paul's release. Six months without a response from the Kremlin. Each day the White House waits to see if the Russian authorities will respond is another day Paul has to spend a hostage.
If there was ever a time for the U.S. government to be multi-tasking and moving decisively, it would be now. The US government needs to find more alternatives to bring Americans home. The Kremlin has taken an American hostage four out of the last five years. It's unlikely to stop without something more deliberate than sanctions.