CIA Chief Burns Was Secretly Sent to Europe Ahead of Blinken Trip to Region: Report

CIA Chief Burns Was Secretly Sent to Europe Ahead of Blinken Trip to Region: Report Bill Burns wearing a face mask CIA Director Bill Burns arrives for his Senate Select Intelligence Committee confirmation hearing in Russell Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C, on Feb. 24. (TOM WILLIAMS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

By Jeffrey Rodack | Thursday, 20 January 2022 09:08 AM

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 is reporting.

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.