WASHINGTON (AP)CIA Director Bill Burns will meet in Ankara, Turkey, on Monday with his Russian intelligence counterpart to underscore the 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 Sergey Naryshkin, the head of Russia’s SVR spy agency, would not discuss settlement of the war in Ukraine. Burns is also expected 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 official said that Ukrainian officials were briefed ahead of Burns’ travel to Turkey.
President Joe Biden, after meeting with China’s President Xi Jinpin g 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 said Monday he could neither confirm nor deny reports of U.S.-Russia talks in Turkey.
Two Turkish officials said they had no knowledge about a meeting between U.S. and Russian delegations. A Turkish Foreign Ministry Spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment.
Biden, a Democrat, 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 Russian President Vladimir Putin has imminent plans to deploy nuclear weapons, according to U.S. officials.
Associated Press writer Suzan Fraser in Ankara, Turkey, contributed reporting.