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Tags: william burns | cia | china | ukraine | russia

CIA Director Burns: US 'Confident' China Plans to Send Russia Lethal Weapons

By    |   Sunday, 26 February 2023 09:41 AM EST

The United States is "confident" that China's leaders are planning to provide lethal equipment at some point to Russia for its war against Ukraine, but that would be a "very risky and unwise bet," CIA Director William Burns says in an interview airing Sunday. 

However, he told CBS' "Face the Nation" that "we also don’t see that a final decision has been made yet, and we don’t see evidence of actual shipments of lethal equipment," adding that's why Secretary of State Antony Blinken and President Joe Biden "have thought it important to make very clear what the consequences of that would be as well."

Burns told Georgetown University students earlier this month that Chinese President Xi Jinping had been "very reluctant to provide the kind of lethal weapons to Russia to use in Ukraine that the Russians are very much interested in."

Blinken last week told the program that China is considering providing lethal support that would include weapons and ammunition to Russia. 

The United States has already imposed sanctions on Chinese companies providing non-lethal support to Russia's mercenaries that includes satellite imagery used to target weapons being used in combat. 

"I think the Chinese are also trying to weigh the consequences of, you know, what the concerns we've expressed are, you know, about providing lethal equipment," Burns told show host Margaret Brennan when she asked him if the CIA knows where Xi stands on the issue. 

"They would run into some pretty serious consequences," said Burns. "That's what we've tried to make clear."

He added that no foreign leader has been watching Russian President Vladimir Putin's actions more closely in Ukraine than Xi Jinping. 

"I think, in many ways, he's been unsettled and sobered by what he's seen," said Burns. 

Burns also in the interview said he doesn't believe Xi has decided yet whether to invade Taiwan. 

"I think we need to take very seriously Xi's ambitions with regard to ultimately controlling Taiwan," he said. "That doesn't, however, in our view, mean that a military conflict is inevitable. I think our judgment at least is that President Xi and his military leadership have doubts today about whether they could accomplish that invasion."

Burns, a former ambassador to Russia, has been repeatedly dispatched by President Joe Biden to speak with Putin and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and with Russia's top spy chief. 

He said he traveled to Kyiv in the days before the Russian invasion to tell Zelenskyy the most recent intelligence the United States had, "which suggested that what Vladimir Putin was planning was what he thought would be a lightning strike from the Belarus border to seize Kyiv in a matter of a few days. I think President Zelenskyy understood what was at stake and what he was up against."

Ukraine's intelligence partners also had good intelligence about what was coming, said Burns. 

"I do think that the role of intelligence in this instance, what we're able to provide to President Zelenskyy, not just on that trip, but you know, throughout the course of the war, have helped him to defend his country with such courage and tenacity," said Burns. "I think that made a contribution early, you know, just before the war started."

Biden also sent Burns three months ago to meet with Sergey Naryshkin, his Russian counterpart to deliver a warning against the use of nuclear weapons, and he told Brennan the meeting was "pretty dispiriting." 

"There was a very defiant attitude on the part of Mr. Naryshkin as well. A sense of cockiness and hubris," Burns said. "A sense, I think, reflecting Putin's own view, his own belief today, that he can make time work for him, that he believes he can grind down the Ukrainians, that he can wear down our European allies, that political fatigue will eventually set in." 

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The United States is "confident" that China's leaders are planning to provide lethal equipment at some point to Russia for its war against Ukraine, but that would be a "very risky and unwise bet," CIA Director William Burns says in an interview airing Sunday....
william burns, cia, china, ukraine, russia
Sunday, 26 February 2023 09:41 AM
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