On November 14th, William J. Burns, the director of U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), warned Kremlin against using nuclear arms at a meeting with Sergei Naryshkin, head of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service, in Ankara, Turkey. It was the first known face-to-face contact between Washington and Moscow’s senior officials since Putin’s invasion of Ukraine in February.
White House officials said the U.S. had informed Ukraine in advance about Burns’ trip to Turkey and expressed that the U.S. has always adhered to the principle that “nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine”. Burns was neither conducting any kind of negotiations with Naryshkin nor discussing settlement of the Russia-Ukraine war. Instead, he was conveying a message about the consequences of Russia’s use of nuclear weapons. Burns, a former U.S. ambassador to Russia, was sent to Moscow by President Biden in late 2021 to meet with Putin and express Washington’s concerns about the build-up of Russian forces around Ukraine. In addition to the Russia-Ukraine war, the U.S. and Russia have many unresolved issues to discuss at this meeting, including the extension of the treaty on the reduction of nuclear weapons, the Black Sea food deal, prisoner exchanges, and the Syrian civil war.