CIA Director William J. Burns traveled in secret to Ukraine’s capital at the end of last week to brief President Volodymyr Zelensky on his expectations for what Russia is planning militarily in the coming weeks and months, said a U.S. official and other people familiar with the visit.
Burns’s travel comes at a critical juncture in the 11-month war. Russian forces are mounting a massive assault near the eastern city of Bakhmut that is causing many casualties on both sides and forcing Ukraine to weigh its resources there as it prepares a major counteroffensive elsewhere in the country.
Top of mind for Zelensky and his senior intelligence officials during the meeting was how long Ukraine could expect U.S. and Western assistance to continue following Republicans’ takeover of the House and a drop-off in support of Ukraine aid among parts of the U.S. electorate, said people familiar with the meeting. All spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the private high-level engagement.
Burns emphasized the urgency of the moment on the battlefield and acknowledged that at some point assistance would be harder to come by, the people said.