The United States is sending FBI agents and diplomatic security personnel to Sochi, Russia to ensure that American athletes and visitors to the Winter Olympic Games receive adequate security, the White House said Thursday.
One of President Obama's top counterterrorism advisers will also head a team to ensure that all security issues are addressed and any needed resources are available, said White House press secretary Jay Carney.
“Lisa Monaco, the president's homeland security and counterterrorism adviser and deputy national security adviser is leading a White House and interagency coordination body to ensure that the full resources of the U.S. government are aligned in support of our athletes, delegation and Americans attending the Olympics,” Carney announced.
He said that while Russian officials “will be responsible for overall security at the games,” the US would also have security personnel on the ground.
“The State Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security has the security lead for the United States,” he added. “We will send diplomacy security and FBI agents to liaise with host country security and law enforcement officials, and we've obviously been in discussions with the Russian government about that.”
Carney's comments come amid concern about terrorism at the Winter Games following a number of bombings in Russia by Islamist groups seeking greater autonomy from Moscow.
Carney said that officials had seen an “uptick in threat reporting” ahead of the Olympics, but cautioned that was “not unusual” for such a large event.
President Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke on Tuesday and discussed measures for a “safe and secure Sochi Olympics, for which the United States has offered its full assistance,” the White House said.
Carney declined to characterize the level of cooperation with Russia, saying only that assistance had been offered.
“We continue to engage with the Russians about security matters in Sochi. We have offered our full support and any assistance to the Russian government in its security preparations for the Sochi games,” he said.
Putin has increased security in the country, with reports saying that an additional 30,000 troops had been moved to the region hosting the Olympics.
The White House in January said it wanted “closer cooperation” on security with Russia and the Pentagon is moving two Navy ships to the Black Sea.
Congressional lawmakers have also voiced concerns about the safety of American athletes, with House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich., saying he was “very concerned” about the security situation.
Rogers on Sunday said that Russian authorities were not being straightforward with the U.S. about terror threats to the Winter Games.