"I'd say that Russia has not been forthcoming in sharing specific
threat information," said a senior U.S. official.
A second U.S. official said the United States believes Russia has
established effective "ironclad" security measures in and around
Sochi, but affirmed that Washington is concerned about Moscow's
reluctance to share threat information.
After two suicide bombings killed 34 people in the southern city of
Volgograd last month, Russia has been keen to assure athletes and
spectators that the Olympics in Sochi, in the turbulent North
Caucasus region, will be safe.
Islamist militants in the North Caucasus have threatened to attack
A U.S. official said that given the formidable security in Sochi,
the most likely targets for attacks are other places, including
Would-be attackers "don't have to hit the hard targets. They just
have to hit the soft target to be effective," the official said.
The U.S. officials did not give details of possible threats. Their
expression of concern came despite a phone conversation on Tuesday
between Putin and President Barack Obama, during which security in
Sochi was discussed.
White House press secretary Jay Carney said the United States had
"offered its full support, and any assistance to the Russian
government in its security preparations for the Sochi games." He
added that FBI and U.S. diplomatic security personnel would be sent
to Sochi to work with Russian authorities.
The United States is offering American technology used to thwart
roadside bombs in places like Afghanistan to bolster Russia's
security during the Olympics and the U.S. military is making two
ships deployed in the Black Sea available if needed during the
Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said the U.S. military
was conducting "prudent" planning in case any American assets might
be required during the Games. But he added that security was up to
Russia, which so far had made no requests for U.S. assistance.
"The United States has made clear very early on (to Russia) that
we're willing to assist in any way that we can. There's been no
request for such assistance," Kirby told a news conference.
[to top of second column]
Kirby stressed that Russia had not asked for any U.S.
counter-bomb equipment and that such discussions were informal.
He also played down the idea the Pentagon is actively planning
for the potential evacuation of U.S. citizens from Sochi.
"There's been no specific planning for evacuation. There's been
no request to have a plan to do that right now," he said.
Kirby said he thought the Russians were taking security "very,
"And I believe they are applying as much energy as possible to
providing security for the Games," he said.
Dmitry Peskov, Putin's chief spokesman, affirmed Russia's view
that decisions about how to safeguard the Olympics are the host
"Threats exist for Olympics held in any location, and each
country takes measures to provide security," Peskov said.
Russia's interior ministry and FSB intelligence service declined
Laith Alkhouri, who monitors extremist websites for Flashpoint
Partners, a firm which consults on counter-terrorism issues for
U.S. government agencies and private businesses, said one of the
latest threats to surface was issued by Ansar al-Sunnah, a
militant group in Dagestan, threatening a possible attack with
"In case you do not...withdraw your armies from the land of the
Caucasus...the attacks will continue and they will elevate to
chemical attacks," the group said in a message posted on what
Alkhouri characterized as an "official" militant website. "The
source of the message is no doubt authentic," Alkhouri said.
A U.S. security official said the U.S. believed the likelihood
of Sochi related attacks with real chemical weapons, such as the
poison gas shells which the Syrian government allegedly used
last year, was "pretty low", although in the past militants in
Iraq had hijacked and blown up trucks carrying chlorine gas.
(Additional reporting by Steve Gutterman in Moscow and Steve
Holland and Phi Stewart in Washington; editing by Gunna Dickson)
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