CIA Chief Was Reportedly Dispatched to Russia to Warn Against Alleged Troop Build-Up Near Ukraine
Newly-surfaced claims suggest that CIA Director Bill Burns was dispatched to Russia earlier this week to warn Russian military officials against carrying out any military operations against neighboring Ukraine.
Citing sources with knowledge of the matter, CNN reported late Friday that the Biden administration had deployed Burns to Moscow as American officials grew increasingly concerned about the number of Russian service members and artillery being moved to Ukraine's northern border.
Per a CNN account, which heavily relies on unidentified sources, Burns emphasized the Biden administration's stance "by conveying that the US is closely monitoring the troop movements."
Sources further indicated that Burns' appearance and meeting with Russian officials was meant to pinpoint Russia's motives for its general footprint in the area. In fact, "some sources" relayed to the outlet that it was believed Russia "could be preparing for an invasion, while others suggest they are conducting an exercise, or simply trying to intimidate Ukraine."
Moscow has rejected any suggestion that its military operations are meant to be taken as a threat, with Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov previously stating that Russia "is not threatening, and does not pose a danger to anyone."
21 October 2021, 16:41 GMT
Earlier, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova referred to reports by western media outlets as not corresponding with reality.
Weighing in on media reports of an alleged troop build-up, Ukrainian Armed Forces' Chief of the General Staff Serhiy Shaptala recently told reporters that there was no actual spike in the number of Russian soldiers.
"To say that there is a buildup of efforts at our borders — this is not the case," Shaptala said on air during a Freedom of Speech show. "When we received information from the media, we asked our intelligence, this is not one intelligence agency, but several. After the data was provided, we again assessed the situation ... and there is no increase in efforts on the state border with Ukraine."
"The country is controlled. There is no increasing efforts of Russia now."
Reports of the spike were also rejected by Oleksiy Danilov, who serves as secretary of Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council.
Burns' meeting with Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev ultimately marked the first time that the pair has met following the CIA director's appointment. At the time, officials privy to the meeting only stated that "the parties discuss Russian-American relations."