CIA director warns Russian spy chief against deploying nukes

Nov 13, 2022, 4:09 PM | Updated: Nov 14, 2022, 9:28 am
FILE - Sergei Naryshkin, head of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service attends a meeting of the ...

FILE - Sergei Naryshkin, head of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service attends a meeting of the Commission for Military Technical Cooperation with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, June 24, 2019. (Alexei Nikolsky, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP, File)

(Alexei Nikolsky, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP, File)

              FILE - Sergei Naryshkin, head of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service attends a meeting of the Commission for Military Technical Cooperation with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, June 24, 2019. (Alexei Nikolsky, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP, File)
            
              FILE - Sergei Naryshkin, head of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service attends a meeting of the Commission for Military Technical Cooperation with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, June 24, 2019. (Alexei Nikolsky, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP, File)
            
              FILE - Sergei Naryshkin, head of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service attends a meeting of the Commission for Military Technical Cooperation with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, June 24, 2019. (Alexei Nikolsky, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP, File)
            
              FILE - Sergei Naryshkin, head of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service attends a meeting of the Commission for Military Technical Cooperation with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, June 24, 2019. (Alexei Nikolsky, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP, File)
            
              FILE - Sergei Naryshkin, head of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service attends a meeting of the Commission for Military Technical Cooperation with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, June 24, 2019. (Alexei Nikolsky, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP, File)
            
              FILE - Sergei Naryshkin, head of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service attends a meeting of the Commission for Military Technical Cooperation with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, June 24, 2019. (Alexei Nikolsky, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP, File)
            
              From left, Sergei Naryshkin, head of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, Russian presidential Aide and the head of the Russian delegation Vladimir Medinsky and Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill listens to Russian President Vladimir Putin's speech during a meeting with historians and representatives of traditional religions of Russia marking the 10th anniversary of the re-establishment of the Russian Historical and Russian Military Historical Societies during National Unity Day in Moscow, Russia, Friday, Nov. 4, 2022. (Grigory Sysoyev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)
            
              FILE - CIA Director William Burns listens during a Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing, on Capitol Hill in Washington, April 14, 2021. (Graeme Jennings/Pool via AP, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — CIA Director Bill Burns met on Monday with his Russian intelligence counterpart to warn of consequences if Russia were to deploy a nuclear weapon in Ukraine, according to a White House National Security Council official.

The official, who was not authorized to comment publicly and spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Burns and Sergei Naryshkin, the head of Russia’s SVR spy agency, did not discuss settlement of the war in Ukraine during the meeting in Ankara, Turkey. Ahead of the meeting, White House officials said Burns had also planned to raise the cases of Phoenix Mercury star Brittney Griner and Michigan corporate security executive Paul Whelan, two Americans detained in Russia whom the Biden administration has been pressing to release in a prisoner exchange.

The Burns-Naryshkin meeting was the highest-ranking face-to-face engagement between U.S. and Russian officials since before Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the February invasion.

The official said that Ukrainian officials were briefed ahead of Burns’ travel to Turkey.

President Joe Biden, after meeting with China’s President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, told reporters that they discussed Russia’s war in Ukraine. Biden added they “reaffirmed our shared belief in the threat for the use of nuclear weapons is totally unacceptable.”

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the Russian state news agency Tass that the talks between Burns and Naryshkin “indeed took place.” Peskov said that “it was the American side’s initiative.”

In Turkey, a top aide to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan confirmed that the country hosted the meeting between the heads of the Russian and U.S. intelligence agencies on Monday. Communications Director Fahrettin Altun told The Associated Press that the meeting was “related to threats against international security, starting with the use of nuclear weapons.”

Turkey earlier this year hosted Ukrainian and Russian officials for talks and played a key role in a U.N.-brokered deal that allowed Ukraine to resume exporting grain to world markets.

Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency said Monday’s meeting was hosted by Turkey’s intelligence agency, MIT.

Turkey “will continue to negotiate with all relevant parties for peace and shall not refrain from taking initiative during this process,” Altun said.

The meeting between the spy chiefs came as the U.S. Treasury Department on Monday announced an expanded list of sanctions on 14 people and 28 entities involved in supporting the Russian military-industrial complex. Many of those hit with new sanctions are located outside of Russia, including people and firms based in Switzerland, Taiwan and France.

Biden also heralded the retreat of Russian forces the southern region of Kherson, one of the four regions in Ukraine that Putin annexed in September.

“It’s a significant, significant victory for Ukraine. Significant victory. And I can do nothing but applaud the courage, determination and capacity of the Ukrainian people, the Ukrainian military,” Biden said.

Biden last month declared that the risk of nuclear “Armageddon” is at the highest level since the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, as Russian officials have raised using tactical nuclear weapons after suffering massive setbacks in the nearly nine-month invasion of Ukraine.

While U.S. officials for months have warned of the prospect that Russia could use weapons of mass destruction in Ukraine as it has faced strategic setbacks on the battlefield, Biden administration officials have repeatedly said nothing has changed in U.S. intelligence assessments to suggest that Putin has imminent plans to deploy nuclear weapons, according to U.S. officials.

The National Security Council official added on Monday there has been no change in the U.S. intelligence assessment and declined to offer further detail on timing of the decision to send Burns to meet with Naryshkin.

Putin has repeatedly alluded to using his country’s vast nuclear arsenal, including in September as he announced plans to conscript Russian men to serve in Ukraine. Biden has sought to make clear that use of a lower-yield tactical weapons could quickly spiral out of control into global destruction.

Speaking at a conference of international foreign policy experts late last month, Putin said it’s pointless for Russia to strike Ukraine with nuclear weapons.

“We see no need for that,” Putin said. “There is no point in that, neither political, nor military.”

Biden sent Burns, a former U.S. ambassador to Russia, to Moscow last fall as the U.S. intelligence community saw signs that Putin was preparing to invade Ukraine.

The CIA chief’s travels are normally closely held, but the White House, as it did last year, has made the calculation that it’s best that Burns’ interaction with the Russian spy chief is widely known.

Before Monday, the last publicly acknowledged face-to-face meeting between senior U.S. and Russian officials took place in January in Switzerland: Secretary of State Antony Blinken held talks with Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Geneva on Jan. 21, before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine the next month.

Blinken and Lavrov have been in the same room for multilateral meetings since the Feb. 24 invasion, including at a G-20 foreign ministers meeting in Bali in early July and at the U.N. General Assembly, but have not had direct discussions.

They have, however, had at least one telephone conversation, which focused on a potential prisoner swap and occurred in late July. In the meantime, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley have also had phone calls with their Russian counterparts, as has national security adviser Jake Sullivan.

___

Associated Press writers Suzan Fraser in Ankara, Turkey, and Matthew Lee and Fatima Hussein contributed reporting.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

New Nebraska NCAA college football coach Matt Rhule, left, arrives with athletic director Trev Albe...
Associated Press

Huskers pay premium for Rhule to bring back program’s glory

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Matt Rhule said he had plenty of options after he got fired by the Carolina Panthers. He could have taken a year off from football or worked in television. Or he could jump back into college coaching. A number of schools reached out to him, he said, but only one appealed […]
15 hours ago
Brazil's Gabriel Jesus, right, and Switzerland's Granit Xhaka challenge for the ball during the Wor...
Associated Press

Swiss loss sets up enticing rematch with Serbia at World Cup

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Switzerland’s loss made its upcoming World Cup rematch all the more enticing, and with a lot more on the line. Ever since the match schedule was made in April, the Group G game between Switzerland and Serbia has been one to keep an eye on. Not just because of the talented […]
15 hours ago
FILE - Basketball Hall of Famer Julius Erving tips his cap to the crowd as he takes the court durin...
Associated Press

Arbitrator will referee Dr. J’s suit against brand developer

DOVER, Del. (AP) — A Delaware judge on Monday halted a lawsuit filed by basketball legend Julius Erving against a brand-development and marketing company, ruling that the dispute must go to arbitration. The lawsuit by the Hall of Fame player known as “Dr. J” stems from a 2016 agreement to sell a majority interest in […]
2 days ago
FILE - Tiger Woods watches his tee shot on the second hole during the second round of the PGA Champ...
Associated Press

Tiger Woods withdraws from his tournament with foot injury

NASSAU, Bahamas (AP) — Tiger Woods was out before he was officially back, withdrawing Monday from his Hero World Challenge with plantar fasciitis in his right foot. The Hero World Challenge was to be the start of a December in golf ruled by Woods, who also has a made-for-television match next weekend, followed by the […]
2 days ago
Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after scoring his side's opening goal during the World Cup ...
Associated Press

AP PHOTOS: World Cup highlights from Day 9

Highlights from the ninth day of the World Cup in Qatar on Monday. ___ AP World Cup coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/world-cup and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
2 days ago
Liberty head coach Hugh Freeze watches as players warm up prior to an NCAA college football game ag...
Associated Press

Auburn hires Liberty’s Hugh Freeze, who’s coming back to SEC

Auburn is hiring Liberty coach Hugh Freeze to take over the football program, more than five years after his resignation from SEC Western Division rival Mississippi amid both personal and NCAA scandals. A person with knowledge of the negotiations told The Associated Press on Monday that Freeze has signed a memorandum of understanding with the […]
2 days ago
CIA director warns Russian spy chief against deploying nukes