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US offers Sochi security help

January 21, 2014

The United States has offered its “full support” to Russia in efforts to ensure security at next month’s Winter Olympics in Sochi. Islamist militants from Russia's Noth Caucasus region have threatened to launch attacks.

Image: picture-alliance/dpa

A statement released by the Pentagon on Monday said that it had offered its “full support to the Russian government” to help secure the upcoming Winter Olympics in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

“To that end, US commanders in the region are conducting prudent planning and preparations should that be required,” Rear Admiral John Kirby of the US Navy said.

“Air and naval assets, to include two Navy ships in the Black Sea, will be available if requested for all manner of contingencies in support of - and consultation with - the Russian government.”

However, Kirby said there had been no requests for assistance “at this time.”

Russian authorities have historically been reluctant to allow foreign military forces on their sovereign soil, especially those of the US.

However, this was not the first time the US has extended the offer. In a January phone call, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel offered American support to his Russian counterpart, Sergei Shoigu.

The US also issued a travel alert to its citizens planning to attend the Games in Sochi.

Meanwhile, Russia's National Anti-Terrorism Committee says it's studying a video posted by an Islamic militant group threatening to strike the Winter Olympics, which are set to run from February 7-23.

The video, posted online on Sunday, was allegedly made by members of the Islamist militant group Ansar al-Sunna, the same group who claimed responsibility for the Volgograd bombings that killed at least 34 people last month.

Islamist insurgents in the Northern Caucasus region seeking their own independent state have vowed to carry out attacks to disrupt the Sochi Games.

There was no immediate comment on the video from Russian officials.

Due to security concerns, Russian President Vladimir Putin has has ordered strengthened safety measures nationwide, with about 37,000 Russian personnel providing security in the Sochi area.

hc/pfd (AFP, Reuters, AP, dpa)