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CIA director meets with Russian counterpart in Ankara

A White House official says the two heads of the spy agency in Ankara did not discuss any negotiations over the war in Ukraine, but did talk about the consequences of nuclear weapons.

CIA Director William Burns met his Russian counterpart, Sergey Naryshkin, head of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service, in the Turkish capital Ankara, the Kremlin confirmed.

According to the TASS news agency, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “Such negotiations really did take place. It was the initiative of the American side.”

A White House official said the discussions between Burns and Naryshkin on Monday were about the consequences of using nuclear weapons.

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US President Joe Biden had a similar conversation with Chinese President Xi Jinping about reducing the threat of nuclear war in Ukraine.

But the US official, speaking to Reuters news agency on condition of anonymity, said: “[Burns] It is not conducting negotiations of any kind. He is not discussing the settlement of the war in Ukraine.”

“It is conveying a message about the consequences of Russia’s use of nuclear weapons and the risks of an escalation towards strategic stability,” the official said.

“It will also raise the cases of wrongfully detained US citizens,” the official said.

INTERACTIVE Russia's nuclear program

Burns, a former US ambassador to Russia, was sent to Russia in 2021 by Biden to warn President Vladimir Putin about troop buildups in Ukraine.

“We informed Ukraine in advance about his trip,” the US official said. “We firmly stick to our fundamental principle: nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine.”

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While the meeting between Russia and the US was first reported by the Russian newspaper Kommersant, The Associated Press reported that two Turkish officials said they did not know about a meeting between the US and Russian delegations.

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Nuclear weapons

Last month, Biden declared that the risk of nuclear “armageddon” is at its highest level since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.

Since Moscow’s illegal annexation of four regions in Ukraine, Russia has repeatedly said that it will defend its territories with all available means, including nuclear weapons.

Before a G20 summit begins in Bali on Tuesday, Biden spoke with Xi and discussed Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, which “reaffirmed our shared belief that the threat or use of nuclear weapons is totally unacceptable.”

The talks touched on thinly veiled threats by Moscow to use atomic weapons as its invasion of Ukraine entered its ninth month.

Britney Griner
US President Joe Biden says he would like to negotiate a prisoner swap with Russia that could include American professional basketball player Brittney Griner. [File: Evgenia Novozhenina/Pool/Reuters]

prisoner exchange

The United States and Russia have a number of issues to discuss in addition to the war in Ukraine, ranging from the extension of the START arms treaty to the soon-to-expire Black Sea grain export deal.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres was asked in Bali about US-Russian contact in Turkey, saying the UN was not involved in the talks.

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“It is very positive that the United States and Russia are having talks because it is an extremely relevant development in relation to the future, but we are not involved,” Guterres said.

Biden said this month that he hoped Putin would be willing to discuss a possible prisoner swap to secure the release of US basketball star Brittney Griner, sentenced to nine years in prison on drug charges, and former US Marine Paul Whelan, who He was sentenced in 2020. to 16 years on espionage charges.

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Viktor Bout, a Russian arms dealer imprisoned in the United States, has been mentioned as a person who could be traded for Griner and Whelan in any future prisoner swap.

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