CIA Director William Burns had a secret conversation in Moscow last week with Russian President Vladimir Putin, during which the American official conveyed Washington’s “serious concerns” about the strengthening of Russian forces in Russia.
“Such a telephone conversation did take place, and cybersecurity issues were discussed, among other things ,” Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peshkov told CNN.
On Friday, the American news network had revealed Burns’ visit to the Russian capital, with the head of the American counter-intelligence expressing the concern of the Biden government for a possible new military intervention of Russia in Ukraine. A US government official even told CNN that “it would be naive if we did not study the possibility of an invasion or armed incursion of Russian forces into the territory of Ukraine.”
U.S. government officials are divided over the Kremlin’s motives, with some officials insisting that Russia is preparing to invade Ukraine and others arguing that Russia’s military exercises in the border area are simply an attempt to intimidate Kiev.
The Ukrainian government, for its part, argues that the strengthening of Russian military forces on the border between the two countries is not a cause for concern. “Russia has adopted the practice of moving and strengthening military units in an effort to maintain tensions in the region and exert political pressure on neighboring states,” the Kyiv Defense Ministry said on Tuesday.
Last week’s satellite images showed Russian troops, tanks and artillery gathering near the Russian town of Yelnia, leading Pentagon officials to speculate that Russian staff were preparing a large-scale invasion of Ukrainian territory.
President Biden has sent Burns to Moscow in a bid to prevent a possible escalation of tensions on the Russian-Ukrainian border.