On Monday, CIA Director William Burns met his Russian counterpart, Sergei Naryshkin, in Ankara, Turkey. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres spoke about the discussion at G20 and said it was “very positive” the two countries were having a discussion, but the United Nations was “not involved.”
A US official, who wished to remain anonymous, spoke to the Reuters news agency and said that the United States would “stick firmly to our fundamental principle: nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine”.
They said: “[Burns] is not conducting negotiations of any kind. He is not discussing settlement of the war in Ukraine.”
“He is conveying a message on the consequences of the use of nuclear weapons by Russia and the risks of escalation to strategic stability.”
The official added: “He will also raise the cases of unjustly detained US citizens.”
The meeting between the two spy chiefs was first reported by the Russian newspaper Kommersant.
A spokesman for Vladimir Putin, Dmitry Peskov, has also confirmed the meeting and said: “Such negotiations really took place. It was the initiative of the American side.”
CIA chief Mr Burns is the former United States ambassador to Russia and was sent to the country in 2021 to speak to President Putin about the troop build-up around Ukraine.
A White House spokesperson has said the discussions between Mr Burns and Mr Naryshkin were “on the consequences of the use of nuclear weapons by Russia,” and the risk of “escalation to strategic stability”.
It comes on the same day US President Joe Biden had a similar conservation with Chinese leader President Xi Jinping.
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The two world leader “underscored their opposition to the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine,” according to the White House.
A statement from the Chinese foreign ministry said President Xi said to the United States leader that nuclear weapons should not be used and nuclear wars could not be fought.
Last month, President Biden said the risk of nuclear “armageddon” was at it’s highest level since the Cuban missile crisis of 1962.
In September, President Putin accused the West of wanting to destroy Russia and said he would use “all available means” to protect the country’s territory, stressing that was “not bluffing”, which was seen worldwide as a veiled threat to use nuclear weaponry.
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The White House also confirmed that the meeting would speak about US citizens that have been “unjustly” imprisoned by Russia.
One major international story of Russian imprisonment is US basketball Olympian Brittney Griner, who was sentenced to nine years in a Russian prison for possessing cannabis oil at an airport near Moscow.
Last week, Ms Griner was moved from a Russian prison to a penal colony, which are descendent of labour camps seen in the Soviet era, also called gulags.
Russia has been accused of using Ms Griner as a “political pawn”.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre has said the US is “unwavering” in their attempt to free Ms Griner and other US prisoners.