US and Russian spy chiefs meet in Turkey

Turkey hosted Ukrainian and Russian officials for talks earlier this year and played a key role in a UN-brokered deal that would allow Ukraine to resume grain exports to world markets.

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Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency said Monday’s meeting was organized by Turkey’s intelligence agency MIT.

Turkey “will continue to negotiate with all relevant parties for peace and will not fail to take initiatives during this process,” Altun said.

The meeting between the spy chiefs came as the US Treasury Department announced Monday an extensive list of sanctions against 14 people and 28 entities involved in supporting Russia’s military-industrial complex. Many of those hit with new sanctions are outside Russia, including people and businesses in Switzerland, Taiwan and France.

Biden also ushered in the withdrawal of Russian troops from the southern region of Kherson, one of four regions in Ukraine that Putin annexed in September.

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“It is an important, important victory for Ukraine. Significant win. And I can do nothing but applaud the courage, determination and capacity of the Ukrainian people and the Ukrainian military,” Biden said.

Biden stated last month that the risk of nuclear “Armageddon” is at its highest level since the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, as Russian officials have raised using tactical nuclear weapons after suffering massive setbacks during the nearly nine-month invasion of Ukraine.

While U.S. officials have warned for months about the prospect that Russia could use weapons of mass destruction in Ukraine as it has faced strategic setbacks on the battlefield, Biden administration officials have repeatedly said nothing has changed in U.S. intelligence assessments to to suggest that Putin has imminent plans. to deploy nuclear weapons, US officials said.

The National Security Council official added on Monday that there has been no change in the US intelligence assessment and declined to provide further details on the timing of the decision to send Burns to meet with Naryshkin.

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Putin has repeatedly alluded to using his country’s massive nuclear arsenal, including in September when he announced plans to employ Russian men in Ukraine. Biden has tried to make it clear that the use of lower-yield tactical weapons can quickly spiral out of control and lead to global destruction.

Speaking at a conference of international foreign policy experts late last month, Putin said it is useless for Russia to attack Ukraine with nuclear weapons.

“We don’t need that,” Putin said. “That makes no sense, neither politically nor militarily.”

Biden sent Burns, a former US ambassador to Russia, to Moscow last fall when the US intelligence community saw signs that Putin was preparing to invade Ukraine.

The CIA chief’s travels are normally closely monitored, but the White House has calculated, as it did last year, that it’s best that Burns’ interaction with the Russian spy chief is public knowledge.

Before Monday, the last publicly acknowledged face-to-face meeting between senior US and Russian officials took place in Switzerland in January: Secretary of State Antony Blinken held talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Geneva on January 21, before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine the following month .

Blinken and Lavrov have been in the same room for multilateral meetings since the February 24 invasion, including at a meeting of G20 foreign ministers in Bali in early July and at the UN General Assembly, but have had no direct discussions .

However, they did have at least one telephone conversation, which took place at the end of July about a possible prisoner exchange. Meanwhile, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, have also called their Russian counterparts, as has National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan.

AP

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