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CIA Director William Burns stated that halting US military support to Ukraine would constitute a “mistake of historic proportions” in a Foreign Affairs magazine op-ed.

Burns emphasized the importance of recognizing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s motives regarding Ukraine, stating, “I have spent much of the past two decades trying to understand the combustible combination of grievance, ambition, and insecurity that Russian President Vladimir Putin embodies… It is always a mistake to underestimate his fixation on controlling Ukraine and its choices.”

Cia Directorburns 2023

Praising the “resilience” of the Ukrainian military and citizens against the Russian invasion, Burns noted the significant impact of the conflict on Russian forces, highlighting the “immense damage,” including over 300,000 casualties. He advocated for continued US support, arguing, “At less than five percent of the US defense budget, it is a relatively modest investment with significant geopolitical returns for the United States and notable returns for American industry.”

Burns further stressed the strategic importance of sustaining aid to Ukraine, suggesting, “Keeping the arms flowing will put Ukraine in a stronger position if an opportunity for serious negotiations emerges… It offers a chance to ensure a long-term win for Ukraine and a strategic loss for Russia.” He warned against the US withdrawing support at this critical juncture, stating, “For the United States to walk away from the conflict at this crucial moment and cut off support to Ukraine would be an own goal of historic proportions.”

The director’s comments come amid a split in Congress over future funding for Ukraine, with President Biden advocating for continued support in the face of Ukrainian military challenges and ammunition shortages. Burns also highlighted the CIA’s efforts in intelligence gathering and the importance of espionage in modern conflict, mentioning, “There will continue to be secrets that only humans can collect and clandestine operations that only humans can conduct.”

A warning about China:
In his op-ed, Burns also issued a warning about the implications of US actions for global power dynamics, particularly concerning China, stating, “For Xi, a man inclined to see the United States as a fading power, American leadership on Ukraine has surely come as a surprise… The United States’ willingness to inflict and absorb economic pain to counter Putin’s aggression—and its ability to rally its allies to do the same—powerfully contradicted Beijing’s belief that America was in terminal decline.”


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