CIA Director Mike Pompeo recently met with Russian top spies, including Sergey Naryshkin, head of the Russian service, known as SVR, U.S. ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman said.
Russian media reported that talks between Russian and U.S. intelligence officials occurred just days before Pompeo repeated his warning that Russia will try to meddle in the 2018 U.S. midterm elections.
Neither side confirmed that Pompeo met with Naryshkin, but both U.S. and Russian intelligence officials said talks occurred between intelligence counterparts. Russia’s U.S. ambassador Anatoly Antonov also confirmed that Naryshkin made a trip to the U.S. for discussions, CNN reports. He further said that contacts between the special services persisted even during the “hardest times.”
“I think this conversation was necessary and very useful. I am sure of it. And of course I’m not going to deceive you — Sergey Evgenyevich [Naryshkin] was here. He came. He held consultations with his colleagues,” Antonov said.
Huntsman also said in an interview on Tuesday that Pompeo met with Russian intelligence officials last week, but did not specify if Naryshkin was among them.
Both U.S. and Russian officials maintained that the discussion focused on efforts to combat terrorism, but Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer demanded that more information is provided.
“The Trump administration must immediately come clean and answer questions. Which U.S. officials did he meet with? Did any White House or National Security Council official meet with Naryshkin? What did they discuss?” Schumer said referring to Naryshkin’s visit.
News of the talks surfaced on Monday as Pompeo warned yet again that Russia will attempt to interfere in the 2018 midterm elections. He made similar claims in October, warning that the 2020 presidential election may also be targeted by Russia.
“We are at risk in 2018 and 2020 … we are always at risk,” he said, without elaborating as to what steps will be taken to counter this threat.