The head of the CIA secretly visited Europe ahead of Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s trip this week as Washington tries to rally allies around a tough response against Moscow if Vladimir Putin presses ahead with plans to invade Ukraine.
According to the details, senior figures have become increasingly concerned that countries including France and Germany may pursue their own path because of closer economic ties with Russia.
The diplomatic push took on even greater urgency on Thursday, a day after President Biden said he believed Putin would press ahead with an invasion.
At the same time, it emerged that CIA Director William Burns slipped into the German and Ukrainian capitals days before Blinken’s much-trumpeted visit this week
US and German officials said that Burns, a former ambassador to Moscow and one of Biden’s most trusted international fixers, briefed German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and the intelligence community on different scenarios involving Russia and Ukraine.
In particular, he urged Berlin to close the recently completed Nord Stream 2 natural-gas pipeline to Russia in the event of an invasion, the officials said.
He was reportedly sent after Scholz refrained from making a public commitment about the pipeline, triggering unease in Washington.
However, a US official told: ‘Last week Director Burns visited Kiev on a previously scheduled trip, where he consulted with intelligence counterparts amid concerns of a further invasion of Ukraine by Russia.
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