A day after offering to help Russia with security at the Winter Olympics, the White House expressed concern Wednesday about the potential for terrorist attacks at the games, citing increased threats.
“We have seen an uptick in threat reporting prior to the Olympics, which is, of course, of concern,” said White House press secretary Jay Carney. He said the U.S. has offered Russia “any assistance they might need to counter that threat.”
The U.S. Olympic Committee and several other countries have received emails regarding security threats at the Sochi Winter Games. The warnings come as Russian authorities are cracking down on suspected Islamic militants who have vowed to strike at the games, to be held in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi.
Mr. Carney said it is “not unusual” for U.S. authorities to pick up an increase in the level of terrorist threats prior to a major international event. But President Obama’s phone call to Russian President Vladimir Putin Tuesday night underscored the administration’s concerns for the safety of those who will attend the Olympics next month.
Neither side has said whether Mr. Putin has accepted Mr. Obama’s offer, but Mr. Carney’s comments suggested the Russian leader had rebuffed the president. Mr. Carney said U.S. citizens who plan to attend the games “should be in contact with the State Department” and that potential threats on the department’s travel web site.
Russian authorities are responsible for overall security at the Olympics; the State Department’s bureau of diplomatic security has the security lead for the United States.
Mr. Carney said the U.S. will send diplomatic security and FBI agents to coordinate with Russia’s security and law enforcement officials, which he termed “standard operating procedure for large events like this where thousands of U.S. citizens, athletes from Team USA, American corporate sponsors and members of the U.S. media are present for an extended period of time.”