John Brennan, the head of the CIA, said in an interview he did go to Kiev “a few weeks ago” to talk to Ukrainian “partners and friends.” He also declined to call Russia an enemy dubbing it instead “a major power”.
While talking to Fusion’s Jorge Ramos, Brennan admitted to the host’s question his visit to Ukraine’s capital in mid-April.
“I was out there to interact with our Ukrainian partners and friends. I had the opportunity to walk through the streets of Kiev and also go to Maidan Square and see the memorials to those Ukrainians trying to find liberty and freedom for their people,” he said.
Following the visit, deposed Ukrainian president Victor Yanukovich accused Brennan of de facto sanctioning a crackdown on pro-Russian activists in the country’s south-east.
Until now the CIA had not disclosed if and why Brennan had been to Kiev but White House spokesman Jay Carney confirmed that the CIA director went in Kiev as part of his trip to Europe and met with high-ranked Ukrainian officials.
In the interview with Fusion, the Brennan said that the situation in Ukraine is “something that needs to be addressed” and insisted that the US wants “the Ukrainian people to have their ability to define their future.”
“We here at the CIA can work with our partners in Ukraine and other areas to give them the information, the capabilities that they need in order to bring security and stability back to their country,” said Brennan.
The CIA chief is not the only American top official to go to Kiev. US Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland visited the capital twice earlier this year, along with several politicians from EU countries. This sparked anger in Russia who accused the West of meddling in Ukraine’s internal affairs.
Moscow-Washington relations soured by the Ukrainian crisis, the CIA director still refused to call Russia an enemy, saying instead it was “a major power.”
“It’s a country with tremendous influence, especially in this part of the world,” he said.
Brennan did not comment on the restive situation in Ukraine’s southeast, where scores of people have reportedly died in clashes between anti-Kiev and government forces. Donetsk and Lugansk regions held autonomy referendums Sunday – despite Russia’s calls to postpone the vote until after the presidential election set for May 25 and repeated statements from western leaders the referendum result will never be recognized.