Russian President Vladimir Putin created a commission Wednesday to fight and follow the money trail of terrorism financing, Reuters reported. In a sign of increasing cooperation and potentially warming ties with Western leaders, American President Barack Obama called Putin a “constructive partner” Wednesday as world leaders step up the fight against the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS, following the attacks in Paris Friday that left at least 129 people dead.
“If we get a better understanding with Russia about the process for bringing an end to the Syrian civil war, that obviously opens up more opportunities for coordination with respect to ISIL,” Obama said, using another acronym for the Islamic State group, according to the Associated Press. Putin Wednesday called for the U.S. and Russia to “stand together” to fight the extremist group.
The new Russian center will investigate and fight terror financing and receive information from the country’s central bank, prosecutor’s office and regional authorities regarding any suspicious activities that could be linked to terrorism. The center will target groups and individuals, including those not already on government lists, in order to freeze assets. During the G-20 meeting in Turkey Monday, Putin accused 40 countries, including members of the G-20, of providing financial support to ISIS.
Obama’s remarks Wednesday come after over a year of acrimonious relations with Russia following the Kremlin’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and the ensuing conflict in Eastern Ukraine that has left 8,000 dead and over 1.4 million displaced. The U.S. has remained skeptical of Russia’s motives in Syria with Western leaders saying Russian airstrikes hit opposition groups that challenge Russia's longtime ally Bashar Assad, the president of Syria.
— MFA Russia (@mfa_russia) November 18, 2015
ISIS claimed responsibility for the attacks in Paris as well as the downing of Russian Metrojet Flight 9268, which killed all 224 people on board, underscoring the importance of the fight against transnational terror networks and the need for countries to work together. The head of the Central Intelligence Agency called for greater intelligence sharing with Russia Monday.