Burns Calls Ukraine War Major ‘Opportunity’ for CIA Recruiting Spies

The CIA has been trying to recruit Russians via social media

CIA Director William Burns said in a speech on Saturday that the war in Ukraine provides his spy agency a “once-in-a-generation opportunity” to recruit Russians.

“Disaffection with the war will continue to gnaw away at the Russian leadership, beneath the steady diet of state propaganda and practiced repression. That disaffection creates a once-in-a-generation opportunity for us at CIA, at our core a human intelligence service,” Burns told the Ditchley Foundation in the UK, according to The Hill.

Burns mentioned how the CIA has been openly trying to recruit people inside Russia using social media. “We’re not letting it go to waste. We recently used social media — our first video post to Telegram, in fact — to let brave Russians know how to contact us safely on the dark web. We had 2.5 million views in the first week, and we’re very much open for business,” he said.

The CIA published a video on Telegram and YouTube in May asking Russians to contact the spy agency with links using Tor, a web browser that encrypts user activity. The idea is to use Tor to access a CIA site on the dark web that the agency uses to gather information from people around the world. The CIA has been posting similar instructions on social media throughout the war.

On the same day Burns delivered his speech, CNN reported that he had recently traveled to Kyiv and met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. A US official said that the trip took place before Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin’s short-lived uprising against the Russian military establishment.

Zelensky confirmed that he met with Burns in an interview with CNN recorded on Sunday but said his dealings with the American spy chief should be kept secret. “My communication with the CIA chief should always be behind the scenes,” he said. “We discuss important things — what Ukraine needs and how Ukraine is prepared.”

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of Antiwar.com, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.