Bill Burns He was a career diplomat and a pillar of the Department of State for decades, until he became Undersecretary in the second administration of Barack Obama. He has been ambassador to Russia and he played a decisive role in establishing the nuclear deal with Iran, so he knows very well the international players that pose the greatest challenge to the West today. Two years ago he has been the director of the INC and in an interview with pbs analyzed the international scene.
“We are witnessing the increase in competition between great powers, such as china and russia, and the continuing challenges of terrorism and other problems around the world. So we’re very busy, but I’m very proud of the work that the CIA is doing on all of these issues,” Burns said.
The CIA director warned that Putin is wrong with his strategy of attrition in his war in Ukraine: “The Russian army is very battered right now. The ukrainian army he is determined to keep up the pressure, to build on his battlefield successes of the past few months. But they also need time to replenish.”
He assured that he does not underestimate the challenges that this war poses for the Ukrainians, first of all, but also for all those who support Ukraine. “But strategically, I think in many ways, Putin’s war has so far been a failure for Russia. The Russian armed forces have done badly and suffered huge losses. The Russian economy has suffered long-term damage. It is destroying most of the progress that the Russian middle class has made in the last 30 years.”
He added that Russia’s reputation has been severely undermined and its weaknesses have been exposed. In addition, he assured that the Russian population seems increasingly uneasy about the costs of the war. “The fact that Putin, when he launched a partial mobilization at the end of September, the reality was that more Russians of military age fled the country than he could gather and send to the front. I think there is discomfort in the Russian population in this moment”.
However, he warned that there is no immediate threat to Putin’s power: “He has created a very safe and repressive authoritarian regime, in his eyes. But I think you are starting to see a growing unrest in Russia about the war and an accumulation of damage to the Russian economy and to the future of Russians, which is going to take its toll over time.”
On Putin’s international alliances, Burns marked its closeness to China and Iran as worrisome.
“A few weeks before Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine, when they met at the Winter Olympics in Beijing, they proclaimed boundless friendship. It is true that there seem to be some limits to that association, at least in terms of the reluctance of the President Xi Jinping to supply the kind of military aid to Putin, but I would not for a moment underestimate the commitment of the Chinese and Russian leaders to this partnership.”
“I don’t think any foreign leader has paid more attention to that war and Russia’s poor military performance than Xi Jinping, while thinking about his own ambitions in Taiwan. and in other places,” he warned.
Burns warned that the further into this decade we go, the greater the risks of a military conflict. “Our priority is the long-term geopolitical challenge posed by Xi’s China. And we have dedicated resources, personnel and priorities in that direction, because it is a global competition”.
CIA director alerted is also the popular Chinese social media platform TikTok. “I think it’s a genuine concern for the US government, in the sense that because TikTok’s parent company is Chinese, the Chinese government may insist on obtaining the private data of many TikTok users in this country, and also it can shape the content of what is posted on TikTok to suit the interests of the Chinese leadership.”
On Iran, Burns assured that the massive protests over the death of Mahsa Amini They surprised the CIA by their duration and by their reach, because they seem to cut across Iranian society, ethnicities, and socioeconomic groups: “This is a growing number of Iranians who are fed up, who are fed up with the economic decline, with corruption, with the social restrictions that especially affect Iranian women. They are fed up with political oppression, fed up with the denial of basic human dignity.”
Still, he cautioned that he does not believe the Iranian regime perceives an immediate threat to its control. “He still has some well-practiced habits of repression and brutality that he continues to employ. In the long term, however, I think the reality is that this is an Iranian regime that does not have good answers for what is on the minds of a very young population, 70 percent of whom are under 30 today. ”.
He also added that there is great concern about the Tehran-Moscow alliance. “What is starting to emerge is at least the beginning of a full-fledged defense partnership between Russia and Iran, with the Iranians supplying drones to the Russians, who are killing Ukrainian civilians as we speak today, and the Russians starting to look at ways in which, technologically or technically, they can support the Iranians, which poses real threats to Iran’s own neighborhood, to many of our friends and partners in Iran’s neighborhood as well,” he said.
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