A rare encounter in Turkey. Intelligence directors from Washington and Moscow discussed nuclear and prisoner exchanges

American and Russian intelligence directors held a rare meeting on Monday, in Turkey, during which Washington renewed its warning to Moscow against any use of nuclear weapons in its war in Ukraine and raised the file of its detained citizens in Russia.

William Burns, director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and former US ambassador to Moscow, sent his Russian counterpart Sergei Naryshkin a warning about the “consequences of Russian use of nuclear weapons and the risks of an escalation on the strategic stability, “according to a spokesman for the White House National Security Council.

The same source pointed out that Burns “is not conducting negotiations of any kind” and “is not discussing a solution to the war. in Ukraine “, adding that the Ukrainians had been informed before the meeting.

The senior official also discussed the issue of “unfairly” detained US citizens with his Russian counterpart. in Russia, in particular with reference to the basketball champion Britney Grenier and the former soldier Paul Whelan.

“We confirm that the Russian-American talks are taking place today in Ankara”, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said from Russian news agencies, stressing that they took place “on the initiative of the American side”. Peskov refused to give details on the content of the discussions.

For its part, the Turkish presidency confirmed that “today Turkey hosted a meeting between the directors of the US and Russian intelligence services”.

The Ankara meeting arrives in a defining moment in the Russian war against Ukraine following the withdrawal of Russian forces last week from the city of Kherson.

Washington asks Moscow for a prisoner swap agreement

Russian President Vladimir Putin sparked international concern when he hinted at nuclear weapons in a televised speech on Sept. 21, saying he was ready to use “any means” in his arsenal to confront the West.

Since then, the United States and its allies have publicly and privately warned Russia, including during a phone call between US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Shoigu.

Despite the war, US officials point out that the US and Russia have maintained “channels of communication” since the beginning of the Russian offensive on February 24, including through the US embassy in Moscow, to convey messages and regarding their relations. bilateral.

On Wednesday, US President Joe Biden expressed hope that the Russian president is more willing to discuss a prisoner swap with the United States.

“I hope that now that the elections are over, Putin will be in able to discuss with us and will be willing to look more seriously at a prisoner swap, ”Biden said in a press conference the day after the mid-term elections.

There star of women’s basketball Britney Greiner was sentenced to nine years in prison for “drug smuggling” after being arrested in February in a Moscow airport with an e-cigarette containing cannabis liquid, and has recently been relocated in an unspecified prison.

Washington has repeatedly indicated that it made an “important offer” to Russia to free former sportsman and military man Paul Whelan, but has so far received no response.

According to Russian diplomatic sources, a possible prisoner swap could include Britney Greiner and Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, who is being held in the United States, where he is serving a 25-year prison sentence.

In the past, the Russians and the Americans conducted several prisoner exchanges.

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