The United States Central Intelligence Agency Director William Burns was scheduled to meet with President Vladimir Putin’s spy chief on Monday. A White House official said Burns would discuss American captives in Russia and warn Putin about the repercussions of any use of nuclear weapons.
Russian spokesperson Dmitry Peskov authenticated to news agencies in Russia about a US-Russia meeting that had taken place in Turkey’s capital Ankara but did not reveal many details.
The White House spokesman also confirmed the meeting of Burns with Sergei Naryshkin, head of Russia’s SVR foreign intelligence service. The official also said that Burns, a former US ambassador to Russia, was not there for any negotiations.
US warning to Russia
He said, “He is not conducting negotiations of any kind. He is not discussing the settlement of the war in Ukraine. He is conveying a message on the consequences of the use of nuclear weapons by Russia, and the risks of escalation to strategic stability … He will also raise the cases of unjustly detained U.S. citizens.”
This was the first publicly known high-level and in-person meeting of US-Russia since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February. The meeting was first reported by Russia’s Kommersant newspaper.
President Joe Biden had commanded Burns to go to Moscow at the end of 2021 to warn Putin regarding the enlargement of the army near Ukraine.
The spokesman said, “We briefed Ukraine in advance on his trip. We firmly stick to our fundamental principle: nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine.”
Putin has been consistent in iterating that Russia will protect its territory with everything available, even nuclear weapons if attacked. He blamed the West for engaging in nuclear blackmail against Russia.
Beyond the conflict, a number of other topics need to be addressed between Russia and the United States, including the Syrian civil war, the extension of a crucial nuclear arms reduction treaty, and a Black Sea grain deal.