Director William Burns delivers the Ditchley Annual Lecture

Advances the Fantasy that the U.S. is Winning the Ukraine War and that Putin Will Soon Fall

As the Ukrainian counteroffensive continues to sputter, CIA Director William J. Burns delivered a talk at the British Ditchley Foundation on July 1, affirming the U.S. strategy of regime change in Russia.

The talk, titled “A World Transformed and the World of Intelligence,” is available here.

The Ditchley Foundation, a force of British intelligence, was founded in 1958, in Oxfordshire to promote Anglo-American working relationships, and has connections to the British monarchy.

Burns stated in the talk that “disaffection with the [Ukraine] war will continue to gnaw away at the Russian leadership beneath the steady diet of state propaganda and practiced repression. That disaffection creates a once-in-a-generation opportunity for us at CIA—at our core a human intelligence service. We’re not letting it go to waste….”

These comments make clear that the CIA is actively trying to capitalize on disaffection with the Ukraine war in Russia to recruit new Agency assets among the anti-Putin opposition and to ramp up its efforts at regime change.

A person in a suit speaking into a microphone

Description automatically generated with medium confidence

In March 2022, President Biden admitted in a speech in Warsaw that the U.S. was seeking through its proxy war against Russia to overthrow the Putin government.

In 2021, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a CIA offshoot that has helped mobilize opposition groups to carry out color revolutions designed to install pro-Western/pro-NATO leaders in Eastern European countries, provided nearly $12 million in grants to anti-Putin forces in Russia and to support anti-Putin propaganda—up from the $10.67 million in 2020.

In the past, the NED financed an organization employing Alexei Navalny, an opposition figure who supports regional separatist movements that would weaken Russia; the Russian-Chechen Friendship Society, whose director was convicted in 2008 of incitement to ethnic or racial hatred; and a Crimean Tatar leader, Mustafa Dzhemilev, whom Russia accused of helping to coordinate an energy and food blockade of Crimea after it voted to rejoin Russia in March 2014 following a U.S.-backed coup in Ukraine.

A group of people posing for a photo

Description automatically generated
NED Director Carl Gershman awarding Mustafa Dzhemilev (center) with Democracy Service Medal in 2018. [Source:]

A Russian prosecutor referred to the legislative body of the Crimean Tatars, of which Dzhemilev was part, as “puppets in the hands of big Western puppeteers who used the Crimean Tatar people as pawns in their game.”

The CIA’s current game, as Burns in his speech made clear, is to use Ukraine as a proxy and tool for trying to destabilize and undermine the Putin government.

This is to be achieved by bogging it down in a quagmire—like with the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s—and ratcheting up sanctions that could cripple Russia’s economy. Disaffection is to be further sown by repeatedly vilifying Putin while glorifying his adversaries.

Putin has been targeted because he has tried to revitalize Russian power following the collapse of the Soviet Union and has begun to reassert Russian control over its economy after a period of looting and foreign economic penetration under Boris Yeltsin (1991-2000).

Yeltsin had forged a strong relationship with President Bill Clinton in the 1990s at a time when he was transforming Russia into basically a neo-colony of the West.

A couple of men standing at a podium

Description automatically generated with low confidence
Boris Yeltsin and Bill Clinton were especially close. Yeltsin served U.S. interests by privatizing Russia’s economy and acquiescing to NATO expansion, breeding criticism that he had sold out the Russian people. [Source:]

U.S. elites saw an incredible opportunity after the collapse of the Soviet Union to dominate the Eurasian region, which Zbigniew Brzezinski depicted in his influential book, The Grand Chessboard, as the key to global domination.

A picture containing text, human face, person, screenshot

Description automatically generated

When Putin began thwarting these plans, and took measures to strengthen Russia’s military and economy, he became public enemy #1.

Burns in his speech highlighted his intense interest in the Prighozin/Wagner mutiny, which evidence suggests was indirectly, or possibly directly, fomented by either the Ukrainian intelligence service or British MI6, which both work in close collaboration with the CIA.

Burns was overly optimistic in his assessment regarding the success of U.S. strategy overall.

Despite the disaffection that he spoke about, the CIA is well aware that Putin’s popularity has increased since the Special Military Operation in Ukraine began.

Most Russians believe that the U.S. and Ukraine provoked the war and that Russia had to look out for its own security interests and defend the beleaguered Russian-speaking population of eastern Ukraine that was being subjected to bombings and invasion following the 2014 Maidan coup.

People in Donetsk demanding Russian intervention to save population from brutal attacks by the Ukrainian army, which were backed by the United States since the Maidan coup in February 2014. [Source:]

What Burns sees as a once-in-a-generation opportunity to recruit Agency assets and advance regime change is really chimerical as such.

It is part and parcel of a fantasy embraced by Anglo-American elites who cannot see that times have changed and that the era of Anglo-American hegemony is over.

CovertAction Magazine is made possible by subscriptionsorders and donations from readers like you.

Blow the Whistle on U.S. Imperialism

Click the whistle and donate

When you donate to CovertAction Magazine, you are supporting investigative journalism. Your contributions go directly to supporting the development, production, editing, and dissemination of the Magazine.

CovertAction Magazine does not receive corporate or government sponsorship. Yet, we hold a steadfast commitment to providing compensation for writers, editorial and technical support. Your support helps facilitate this compensation as well as increase the caliber of this work.

Please make a donation by clicking on the donate logo above and enter the amount and your credit or debit card information.

CovertAction Institute, Inc. (CAI) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and your gift is tax-deductible for federal income purposes. CAI’s tax-exempt ID number is 87-2461683.

We sincerely thank you for your support.

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are the sole responsibility of the author(s). CovertAction Institute, Inc. (CAI), including its Board of Directors (BD), Editorial Board (EB), Advisory Board (AB), staff, volunteers and its projects (including CovertAction Magazine) are not responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in this article. This article also does not necessarily represent the views the BD, the EB, the AB, staff, volunteers, or any members of its projects.

Differing viewpoints: CAM publishes articles with differing viewpoints in an effort to nurture vibrant debate and thoughtful critical analysis. Feel free to comment on the articles in the comment section and/or send your letters to the Editors, which we will publish in the Letters column.

Copyrighted Material: This web site may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. As a not-for-profit charitable organization incorporated in the State of New York, we are making such material available in an effort to advance the understanding of humanity’s problems and hopefully to help find solutions for those problems. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. You can read more about ‘fair use’ and US Copyright Law at the Legal Information Institute of Cornell Law School.

Republishing: CovertAction Magazine (CAM) grants permission to cross-post CAM articles on not-for-profit community internet sites as long as the source is acknowledged together with a hyperlink to the original CovertAction Magazine article. Also, kindly let us know at For publication of CAM articles in print or other forms including commercial internet sites, contact:

By using this site, you agree to these terms above.

About the Author


Leave a Reply