Working as the American ambassador to Russia in the early 2000s was so stressful, it caused CIA Director William Burns? hair to lose its color, the newly appointed intelligence boss has claimed.
Speaking on Monday to the Wall Street Journal, Burns claimed he acquired "most of the gray locks" during his work in Moscow - a post he held from 2005 to 2008.
"The rest of my gray hair has to do with negotiations with the Iranians, especially the secret negotiations in 2013" over nuclear weapons, he explained, referring to the interim Joint Plan of Action agreement inked that year between Iran and six other nations to ease embargoes on Tehran in exchange for curbing its atomic program.
Burns also commented on concerns over the Russian-Ukrainian border ahead of a meeting due to take place on Tuesday between President Vladimir Putin and his American counterpart, Joe Biden. The latter will raise concerns about Moscow's alleged "military activities on the border with Ukraine," according to the White House.
The CIA director remarked that he "would never underestimate President Putin's appetite for risk" when it comes to Kiev. "It's so important to respond to that with a strong mix of deterrence as well as the possibility of diplomacy," he said.
The Kremlin has consistently denied accusations made by several Western outlets and officials in recent weeks that Russia is masterminding an invasion of its neighbor. Putin's spokespman, Dmitry Peskov, has slammed the allegations as groundless.
"This hysteria, which is being stirred up now in the Anglo-Saxon media, in the Ukrainian media, and is supported by Ukrainian politicians led by the head of state [President Volodymyr Zelensky], is absolutely unacceptable," the Kremlin press secretary said.
Moscow mocked reports by US news site Politico in early November that claimed Russian troops were being stationed in increasing numbers near the Ukrainian border. However, satellite imagery published alongside the article purported to show Russian hardware piling up near the city of Yelnya, hundreds of kilometers from Ukraine, and closer to neighboring Belarus.