In early November, months before the war began, CIA Director William Burns visited Moscow to deliver a warning: The U.S. believed Russian President Vladimir Putin was preparing to invade Ukraine. If he went ahead, he would face crippling sanctions from a united West.

The American spy chief was connected on a secure Kremlin phone with Mr. Putin, who was in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, isolated from all but a few confidants. The Russian leader made no effort to deny Mr. Burns’ charge. Instead, he calmly recited a list of grievances about how the U.S. had for years ignored Russian security concerns.



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