CIA Director Bill Burns made a quiet trip to Berlin and Kyiv in an effort to rally support among European nations for a tougher response against Russia in the event it invades Ukraine, The Wall Street Journal reported.
His visit to the German and Ukrainian capitals came a week before the official trip to the region by Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
Burns told German Chancellor Olaf Scholz that Berlin should shelve the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline to Russia if Ukraine is invaded, according to WSJ.
Burns was sent to Germany after Scholz had held back from announcing that Germany would freeze Nord Stream 2 in case of a Russian invasion.
WSJ noted that the U.S. sees shutting down the pipeline as a major aspect of a trans-Atlantic response to a Russian invasion.
AFP reported the pipeline has been completed but not commissioned. It is seen as a key part of Europe's energy supply network and as a crown jewel in Russia's export capabilities.
"Our view continues to be that stopping the Nord Stream 2 pipeline is a credible piece we hold over Russia," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said.
After President Joe Biden suggested there could be a lower cost for a ''minor incursion'' by Russia in Ukraine — as opposed to a full-scale invasion — the White House press office issued a statement to clarify his remarks Wednesday night.
Psaki's statement stressed a response to any Russian aggression on Ukraine would be ''decisive, reciprocal, and united.''
''President Biden has been clear with the Russian President: If any Russian military forces move across the Ukrainian border, that's a renewed invasion, and it will be met with a swift, severe, and united response from the United States and our allies,'' the statement said.
Biden predicted Wednesday that Russia will make a move on Ukraine.
Meanwhile, Blinken on Wednesday urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to choose the "peaceful path" on Ukraine, as he visited Kyiv in a show of support, according to AFP.
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