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US Renews Offer To Help Russia with Security at Olympics

Jan. 29, 2014 - 08:13PM   |  
One of the Olympic torches rises in front of a poster with the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic logo Oct. 7 just outside Red Square in Moscow. (Kirill Kudryavtsev / Getty Images)
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WASHINGTON — The US military has renewed an offer to help Russia with security at next month’s Olympic games in Sochi, the Pentagon said Wednesday.

But Moscow has given no indication it wants to take up Washington on its offer, spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby told reporters.

Recounting a phone conversation earlier Wednesday between Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Shoigu, the spokesman said the two did agree to arrange a communications channel to ensure senior officers from both countries could confer if needed during the Sochi games.

“They both agreed that some sort of regular exchange and dialogue between the two militaries throughout the period of the Olympics would be a good idea, so they’re working the details of that,” Kirby said.

There was no specific offer from Hagel and no specific request for help from Moscow.

“I would describe it more as a check-in call,” Kirby said.

“Secretary Hagel wanted to make sure that the minister knew how serious we were about an offer of support.”

For his part, Shoigu indicated that Russia was “ready” for the security challenge presented by the games, which run from February 7 to 23.

US officials and lawmakers have expressed frustration over Russia’s reluctance to share information on potential threats to the event.

Security fears have been exacerbated by two suicide bombings in the southern city of Volgograd last month — Russia’s deadliest in three years — that killed 34 people.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper pointed to a rise in reported threats related to the games.

“We have seen an increase in threat reporting just prior to the Olympics, which is not unusual for a major international event, and have offered assistance to the Russian Government,” he wrote in testimony to lawmakers.

Russia’s Ambassador to Washington Sergei Kislyak insisted Sunday that Moscow’s intelligence sharing with the Americans had been “good enough” and that his government had the situation well in hand.

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