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Russia-U.S. spy chiefs discussed “sensitive“ questions, says Moscow


U.S. Central Intelligence Agency Director William Burns and President Vladimir Putin’s spy chief discussed “sensitive” questions when they met this week in Turkey, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Thursday.

Burns cautioned Sergei Naryshkin, head of Russia’s SVR foreign intelligence service, about the consequences of any use of nuclear weapons, and about risks to strategic stability, the U.S. side.

It was the first known high-level, face-to-face U.S.-Russian contact since Russia invaded Ukraine in February. Burns, a former U.S. ambassador to Russia, was sent to Moscow in late 2021 by President Joe Biden to caution Putin about Moscow’s troop build-up around Ukraine.

“The contact (between Burns and Naryshkin) was initiated by the American side,” Ryabkov told RTVI. “The questions discussed there were of a sensitive nature.”

“Dialogue is going on but it is not of a systemic character,” he said. “But we are not standing there with our hat in our hand: the Americans need dialogue with us just as much as we need it with them.”

Ryabkov said more contact with the United States would take place later this month when a bilateral consultative commission on the New START arms treaty meets on Nov. 29 to Dec. 6 in Cairo.

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CIA Director William Burns speaks during a House Intelligence Committee hearing on worldwide threats, in Washington, D.C., U.S., April 15, 2021. Tasos Katopodis/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov attends a meeting of Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov with Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian in Moscow, Russia March 15, 2022. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov/Pool