CIA Director Pays Rare Visit to Moscow to Discuss US-Russia Ties

CIA Director William Burns makes a rare visit to Moscow to discuss US-Russian relations, the latest in a series of high-level contacts that show both sides want to keep talking despite mutual mistrust. and a long list of disputes.

A spokesman for the US embassy said Burns led a delegation of senior US officials to Moscow on Tuesday and Wednesday at the request of President Joe Biden.

“They are meeting with members of the Russian government to discuss a number of issues in the bilateral relationship,” the spokesman said.

Russia’s Security Council said Burns, a Russian speaker and former ambassador to Moscow, held talks with Nikolai Patrushev, the council’s secretary and former head of Russia’s FSB intelligence service.

Neither party gave details of the conversation, but security concerns loom large in their troubled relationship.

William Burns, candidate for director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), testifies during the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, February 24, 2021 (credit: TOM WILLIAMS / POOL VIA REUTERS).

Ties have reached a series of post-Cold War lows over issues including Russia-based cyberattacks against US targets, Moscow’s support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, the imprisonment of opposition politician Alexei Navalny and the behavior of Russia towards Ukraine, from which it seized power. Crimean Peninsula in 2014.

Biden sent a leading Russian expert, Under Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, to Moscow for talks last month that yielded no progress in a dispute between the two countries over the size of their respective embassies.

Biden met with Russian President Vladimir Putin at a summit in Geneva in June and said at the time that it would take six months to a year to find out whether the two countries could establish a meaningful strategic dialogue.

Putin frequently criticizes the United States, but said last month that he had established a constructive relationship with Biden. The Kremlin has said that a new meeting between the two this year is a realistic possibility.

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