CIA chief meets Russian counterpart to discuss nuclear weapons in Ukraine, prisoners

© Graeme Jennings, Reuters/File photo

US Central Intelligence Agency Director William Burns met with his Russian counterpart in the Turkish capital, Ankara, on Monday to warn of the consequences of any use of nuclear weapons, which Moscow has threatened to deploy in Ukraine, and to raise the issue of US prisoners in Russian jails, according to US officials.

A White House National Security Council official said the CIA chief met Sergei Naryshkin, head of Russia's SVR foreign intelligence service to discuss "the consequences of the use of nuclear weapons by Russia, and the risks of escalation to strategic stability".

The official, who was not authorised to comment publicly about the meeting, said Burns did not discuss any settlement of the war in Ukraine with his Russian counterpart.

Ahead of the meeting, the National Security Council (NSC) said Burns was not meeting with Naryshkin to negotiate anything, as the Ukraine war is in its ninth month and Russia still occupies large swathes of Ukraine territory.

"He is not conducting negotiations of any kind. He is not discussing settlement of the war in Ukraine," the NSC said in a statement.

"We firmly stick to our fundamental principle: nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine," it said.

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".

Ahead of the meeting, US media said Burns was expected to raise the issue of US citizens detained "unjustly" in Russia with the SVR chief.

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