Reuters/Handout via Reuters Television
Even as Russia tightens up security arrangements in response to terrorist threats to the upcoming winter Olympics in the Black Sea town of Sochi, the United States on Monday offered to help the Russian government to prepare for any contingencies.
“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 in consultation with -- the Russian government,” the Pentagon said in a statement.
The offer of assistance from the U.S. military followed the release of a video featuring two men said to be Islamist militants involved with suicide attacks in southern Russia. In the video, the men appear wearing explosive belts and warn Russian President Vladimir Putin to expect a “present” at the Sochi games, according to Reuters.
Meanwhile, media reports also noted that local police in Sochi had warned of the possible presence of a woman believed to be a terrorist, and had handed out fliers to local hotels describing her as Ruzanna "Salima" Ibragimova, the widow of a militant from the Caucasus region.
“U.S. commanders in the region are conducting prudent planning and preparations should that support be required,” the Pentagon statement said Monday, adding: “There is no such requirement at this time.”
However, there would be significant hurdles to carrying out a large-scale evacuation of Americans from Sochi mainly because Russian authorities would balk at allowing foreign military forces, especially those from the U.S., on Russian territory, Reuters reported, citing a source familiar with the discussions within President Barack Obama’s administration.
The State Department would lead the evacuation of Americans, if necessary, CNN reported, citing an official with direct knowledge of the plan. The same report, citing a U.S. official, also noted that the U.S. military will make available several transport aircraft to help evacuate American officials and athletes from the winter games, if necessary.