January 27, 2014
The United States remains concerned about terror threats tied to the upcoming Olympic games, officials said Friday, but, so far, there isn't a Sochi-specific plan if evacuation is needed.
"There are no specific evacuations plans for the Olympics, per say, but… our commandant commanders have on the shelves American citizen evacuations plans...just as a general rule," a senior administration official said.
The Sochi Olympics, in Russia, are scheduled to begin on Feb. 7., but recent reports of possible terror threats -- including a report that the "white widow" could be in Sochi -- have raised security and safety concerns for athletes, diplomats, and the general public.
And so far, the Russian government has yet to ask for help from the United States, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said, adding that,"we discussed American assistance in anyway we can help the Russians. As of right now the Russians have not requested any specific assistance or technology."
A senior administration official said that the Russian government also hasn't put in a "formal request for counter-IED technology" in regard to the Olympics, adding that "no offer made of that technology and assistance."
Government officials from both countries have discussed counterterrorism measures, but a senior administration official said that predates discussions about the Olympics.
"We have been talking to the Russians about the regional security concerns we have, these are long-standing concerns," the official said.
But Hagel remained confident that, if needed, the United States will be able to get Americans out of the country, saying U.S. officials "will have appropriate arrangements with the Russians to do that."
It is unclear if that means U.S. officials -- either through the State or Defense Departments -- would enter Russia to remove U.S. citizens, or rely on assistance from the Russian government.
The State Department takes the lead on deciding how to evacuate U.S. citizens when necessary, and officials stressed that at this point they are focused on "prudent planning… just in case we're called."
The United States is also sending two ships into the Black Sea; they have yet to arrive.
As for security threats, officials say they both expected for terror threats to pop up, and expect more as the Olympics draw nearer.
January 27, 2014