May 26, 2024

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The CIA director says the Wagner Group's insurrection is a "vivid reminder" of the "destructive influence" of the Putin regime

The CIA director says the Wagner Group’s insurrection is a “vivid reminder” of the “destructive influence” of the Putin regime

CIA Director William Burns said Saturday that the effects of the armed rebellion Led by the head of the Wagner Group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, a week ago It will “linger for some time” in Russia, and was a “living reminder” of the “destructive influence” of the Putin regime.

“It is astonishing that Prigozhin preceded his actions with a scathing condemnation of the Kremlin’s false rationale for invading Ukraine, and the conduct of the Russian military leadership for the war,” Burns said in prepared remarks at the Ditchley Institution in Oxfordshire, England. . “The impact of these words and these actions will last for some time, and is a vivid reminder of the devastating impact of Putin’s war on his society and his regime.”

He also said the CIA faces a “once-in-a-generation opportunity” to recruit human resources in Russia due to “discontent” with the war in Ukraine, referring to the recent Telegram. video Giving instructions to the Russians on safe communication with the agency achieved 2.5 million views in its first week.

“We’re very open for business,” Burns said.

Reaffirming previous messaging by the Biden administration, but in his first public remarks on the matter, Burns said the United States “had and will not have a role” in Prigozhin’s rebellion or its aftermath.

Earlier this week, Burns also personally delivered a message to the head of Russia’s foreign intelligence service that the United States was not involved in last week’s armed insurgency, a US official confirmed to CBS News. The Biden administration has publicly confirmed that it considers the uprising and its repercussions an internal Russian affair.

Burns communicated with SVR chief Sergei Naryshkin on the phone, as The Wall Street Journal first mentioned, informing Moscow that the United States had no role in the uprising. The conversation between the managers is believed to be the highest level of engagement between the US and Russia since Prigozhin’s short-lived attack – the most serious challenge to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s grip on power in his more than two decades in power.

President Biden said Monday that the United States conducted the outreach “to make sure that we didn’t give Putin any excuse – let me stress – we didn’t give Putin any excuse to blame the West or blame NATO.” On Wednesday, Biden said “yes” when asked if he thought the events had weakened Putin, adding that the Russian leader had “become a pariah around the world.”

US Ambassador to Russia Lynn Tracy conveyed messages similar to Burns during last week’s events to the Russian Foreign Ministry, adding that the US expects to protect its diplomatic staff stationed in Russia, according to the State Department. A State Department official said Moscow’s ambassador to the United States, Anatoly Antonov, was also briefed on the matter.

A US official confirmed that before Prigozhin’s insurgency began, Burns had also traveled to Ukraine, where he had been going regularly since the war broke out.

“As with other trips, the director met with his counterparts in Ukrainian intelligence and President Zelensky, and they reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to sharing intelligence to help Ukraine defend against Russian aggression,” the official told CBS News. The official added that Prigozhin’s gun attack was not a topic of discussion in Burns’ meetings.

American intelligence agencies had been tracking the escalating tensions between Prigozhin and the Russian military for months and briefed the administration and congressional stakeholders on a possible armed insurrection shortly before it broke out.

The CIA declined comment on Burns’ recent visit to Kiev, which was first reported by The Washington Post.

Burns, a career diplomat and former ambassador to Russia, has been frequently deployed by President Biden to address sensitive foreign developments. He met Taliban interlocutors before Kabul collapsed in August of 2021, and in May he met for the first time with his counterpart in Beijing — helping pave the way for other US-China interactions after a months-long freeze in relations.

Burns and Naryshkin had previously had a rare and tense face-to-face confrontation in Turkey last November, when the administration sent Burns to warn Moscow against using nuclear weapons. is later named The reaction is “soul-dampening”, and Naryshkin is “challenging”.

The former diplomat was also sent to Moscow in November 2021 to warn Putin against launching his invasion of Ukraine; The two spoke on the phone. When, months later, an invasion nonetheless seemed imminent, the administration tasked Burns with updating Zelensky on the latest American intelligence on Russia’s plan.

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