Reuters - Anadolu Agency
U.S. Central Intelligence Agency Director William Burns was in Ankara to speak with his Russian intelligence counterpart Sergei Naryshkin to convey a message on consequences of any use of nuclear weapons by Russia, a White House official said on Nov. 14.
William Burns was expected to caution President Vladimir Putin's spy chief at talks about the consequences of any use of nuclear weapons, and to raise the issue of U.S. prisoners in Russia, the official said.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirmed to Russian news agencies that a U.S.-Russia meeting had taken place in the Turkish capital Ankara but declined to give details about the participants or the subjects discussed.
Peskov said the meeting was held at the request of the United States.
The White House spokesperson, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Burns was meeting Sergei Naryshkin, head of Russia's SVR foreign intelligence service.
It was the first known high-level, face-to-face U.S.-Russian contact since Russia invaded Ukraine in February.
"He is not conducting negotiations of any kind. He is not discussing settlement of the war in Ukraine," the spokesperson said.
"He is conveying a message on the consequences of the use of nuclear weapons by Russia, and the risks of escalation to strategic stability ... He will also raise the cases of unjustly detained U.S. citizens."
Burns is a former U.S. ambassador to Russia who was sent to Moscow in late 2021 by President Joe Biden to caution Putin about the troop build-up around Ukraine.
"We briefed Ukraine in advance on his trip. We firmly stick to our fundamental principle: nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine," the spokesperson said.
Turkey also confirmed the meeting.
"We confirm that Turkey hosted a meeting between the heads of the Russian and US intelligence agencies earlier today,” Fahrettin Altun, the Turkish communications director, told the Associated Press.
Altun added: “Hosted by the (Turkish) National Intelligence Agency, that meeting represents yet another major contribution by Turkey and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to global peace.”
Putin has repeatedly said Russia will defend its territory with all available means, including nuclear weapons, if attacked. He says the West has engaged in nuclear blackmail against Russia.