CIA Chief Talks With Russia Could Set Stage for More Dialogue on NATO, Ukraine, Experts Say

© REUTERS / POOLWilliam Burns, nominee for Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) director, attends his Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, February 24, 2021
William Burns, nominee for Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) director, attends his Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, February 24, 2021 - Sputnik International, 1920, 09.11.2021
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WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - CIA Director William Burns’ recent talks with top Russian intelligence and security officials could set up communications channels to defuse tensions over NATO expansion threats and the situation in Ukraine, analysts told Sputnik.
On Monday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russian President Vladimir Putin and Burns in a phone call discussed Russia-US relations and regional conflicts. The call comes after Burns met with Russian intelligence officials in Moscow last week.
US media on Friday reported that Biden sent Burns to Moscow for the purpose of warning Russia over its military activity near Ukraine.
On Monday, however, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Burns during the visit confirmed the importance of implementing the Minsk agreements on ending the conflict in Ukraine.
"US-Russian relations have been so bad, a meeting of security personnel can be significant, especially since President Putin was once in the intelligence services and likely values this channel of communication," Independent Institute Center for Peace and Liberty Director Ian Eland told Sputnik about the talks and meetings.
Eland said Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin resurrecting the "bad idea" of admitting Ukraine and Georgia into NATO last month would also need to be addressed in any future dialogue.
"Ukraine and NATO expansion would likely be areas of confluence of interests and would probably ease the transition to the many tough issues to follow," Eland said. "These are the toughest issues between the two countries."
Putin warned that Austin's vocal support for Kiev joining the alliance could be interpreted as "opening the doors" for Ukraine to enter NATO.
Former CIA officer Phil Giraldi, however, told Sputnik it is difficult to imagine what bridges the US and Russia could possibly build going forward given the White House's "take" on what is going on in the world.
On November 3, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that western media reports about Russia pulling troops to the Ukrainian border do not correspond to reality.
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