CIA director meets with Zelensky days after Ukraine enters Kherson
Burns represents the messenger of a US warning that he delivered on Monday to the head of Russia’s foreign intelligence service to “not to use nuclear weapons”.
The US has further stamped its support for Ukraine after CIA Director William J. Burns convened in Kiev on Tuesday with Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky - on the same day Russian missiles hit the capital.
Pentagon Press Secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder claimed that “Russian aircraft” fired the missiles, relaying that "for the duration of this campaign, Russia has used a mix of capabilities," from airborne, and ground-based to sea-launched missiles.
The visit came days after Ukrainian forces entered the city of Kherson, the recently-annexed Russian territory, which Zelensky visited on Monday. According to an anonymous US official, Burns was the messenger of a US warning delivered on Monday to the head of Russia’s foreign intelligence service to “not to use nuclear weapons”.
The US official stated that Burns “reinforced the U.S. commitment to provide support to Ukraine in its fight against Russian aggression,”
Burns had already met with Russian official SVR Director Sergei Naryshkin, in Ankara, Turkey, followed by Russian media disclosing the visit, which the CIA director usually keeps private.
Burns carried a message to Putin last November
The CIA Director, who is also the former ambassador to Russia, met with top Kremlin officials in November last year and spoke by phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin, carrying a letter from US President Joe Biden to Putin warning that if the war takes place in Ukraine, massive consequences would be imposed.
In an interview with CBS News’s Norah O’Donnell in September, Burns commented: "We have to take very seriously [any] kind of threats given everything that’s at stake," adding, "And, you know, the rhetoric that he and other senior Russian leaders have used is reckless and deeply irresponsible."
Per Burns, US intelligence agencies have not seen "any practical evidence" regarding Putin's intended use of nuclear weapons.
On Monday, Zelensky spoke to hundreds of people gathered in the central square of Kherson, claiming that his forces' entrance marked “the beginning of the end of the war”. His visit came following the complete withdrawal of Russian troops and hardware from the right bank of the Dnipro River in the Kherson Region a few days ago, eight months after the start of the war, as Russia cited its need to build up defenses on the left bank of the river.