Sergey Naryshkin, the head of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), confirmed on Wednesday that he spoke with CIA Director William Burns after Yevgeny Prigozhin’s short-lived rebellion.
US media outlets reported at the end of June that Burns phoned Naryshkin to assure that the US was not involved in Prigozhin’s mutiny. But Naryshkin said the two spy chiefs mostly discussed Ukraine.
“Yes, indeed, a conversation took place at the end of last month. The way I see it, the June 24 events served as a pretext for a phone call by my American colleague,” Naryshkin told Russia’s TASS news agency.
Naryshkin said the “bulk of the conversation was focused on discussing Ukraine and events around it. We gave some thought to and deliberated on what should be done about Ukraine.” He added that the conversation lasted about an hour.
Burns, a Russian speaker and former US ambassador to Russia, met Naryshkin in person last November, and Moscow has expressed interest in setting up another face-to-face discussion between the spy chiefs. Naryshkin said they didn’t agree to set up an in-person meeting during the phone call but added that “such a possibility exists.”
Burns recently called the war in Ukraine a “once-in-a-generation opportunity” to recruit Russian spies. The CIA has been attempting to contact people inside Russia by posting videos on social media.