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NY Post
New York Post
1 Jul 2023

NextImg:Wagner Group’s aborted mutiny sign of war’s ‘corrosive effect’ on Russia: CIA chief

CIA Director William Burns said on Saturday last week’s armed mutiny by mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin shows the corrosive effect on Russia of President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine.

“It is striking that Prigozhin preceded his actions with a scathing indictment of the Kremlin’s mendacious rationale for the invasion of Ukraine and of the Russian military leadership’s conduct of the war,” Burns, who previously served as U.S. ambassador to Moscow, said in a lecture in England.

“The impact of those words and those actions will play out for some time – a vivid reminder of the corrosive effect of Putin’s war on his own society and his own regime.”

Burns depicted the rebellion as an “armed challenge to the Russian state” but said it was an “internal Russian affair in which the United States has had and will have no part.”

The comments followed a secret visit to the embatled country, where Ukrainian officials told Burns they have a plan to end the war and retake Moscow-occupied territory by the end of the year.

Part of Ukraine’s plan could include positioning artillery and missiles near Crimea to leverage negotiations by holding the peninsula hostage.
AFP via Getty Images

The trip last month included meetings with President Volodymyr Zelensky and and other top Ukrainian intelligence officials, a source familiar with the visit told The Washington Post.

It took place shortly before Prigozhin’s aborted rebellion, according to the official, who spoke anonymously.

Burns has visited regularly since Russia’s invasion in an effort to show the Biden administration’s commitment to sharing intelligence to aid Ukraine in the war, the official added.

While Ukrainian officials have publicly expressed frustration at the slow-moving pace of the counteroffensive, which launched in early June, military leaders in Kyiv reportedly expressed confidence to Burns in private that they can retake Russian-controlled territory by the fall.

The military officials also remain optimistic that they can position artillery and missile systems near the border of Moscow-controlled Crimea, move further into eastern Ukraine and begin negotiating peace talks with Russia for the first time since discussions of a cease-fire fell apart in March 2022, the sources familiar with the plan said.

William Burns.

Ukrainian military officials told CIA Director William Burns that it has a plan to end the war with Russia by the end of the year.
Getty Images

CIA Director William Burns recently met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

CIA Director William Burns recently met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Getty Images

If it moves to hold hostage the Crimean peninsula — home to Russia’s prized Black Sea military fleet — while agreeing not to take the territory by force, Ukraine could them demand Russia accept any security agreements it can secure from the West, according to the officials.

“Russia will only negotiate if it feels threatened,” a senior Ukrainian official said.

The US and Western European countries have shown interest in offering guarantees of long-term security assistance for Ukraine, but they have yet to warm to the idea of allowing Ukraine to join NATO or the European Union, which would risk a conflict with Moscow.

With Post wires