CIA Director William Burns made a secret visit to Ukraine where Burns’ trip, which has not been previously reported, included meetings with President Volodymyr Zelensky and top Ukrainian intelligence officials, according to the Washington Post.
The visit came at a critical moment in the conflict as Ukrainian forces struggle to gain advantages in their long-awaited counter-offensive, but have yet to deploy most of the Western-trained and equipped assault brigades.
“Burnes recently traveled to Ukraine, as he has done regularly since the beginning of Russia’s latest aggression over a year ago,” said a US official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. The official added that the purpose of the visit was to reaffirm the Biden administration’s commitment to sharing intelligence to help Ukraine defend itself.
Publicly, Ukrainian officials have expressed frustration with critics of the counter-offensive’s pace thus far. Privately, however, Kiev military planners conveyed to Burns and others their optimistic confidence in their aim to reconquer large territories by fall. Where they will begin moving artillery and missile systems closer to the border line of Russian-controlled Crimea; to push a lot of equipment further into eastern Ukraine; Then he opened negotiations with Moscow for the first time since peace talks collapsed in March last year, according to three people familiar with the planning. “Russia will only negotiate if it feels threatened,” said a senior Ukrainian official.
The CIA declined to comment when asked about Burns’ assessment of the attack’s potential.
Burns’ trip came just before the abortive rebellion of Russian mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin against the Russian defense establishment. The US official said that although US intelligence agencies discovered in mid-June that Prigozhin was planning an armed attack of some kind, those findings were not discussed during meetings with Zelensky and others.
Biden administration officials emphasized that Washington and Kiev had nothing to do with the failed march on Moscow, a rare challenge to Russian President Vladimir Putin that the United States has described as an internal affair.
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