Pentagon stands ready to back Russian counterterrorism efforts

American forces stand ready to back any Russian-led counterterrorism efforts in the wake of a series of deadly bombings over the weekend. 

Moscow has yet to reach out to the Pentagon or White House with an official request for support, Defense Department spokesman Col. Steve Warren said Monday. 

However, he did note existing military-to-military cooperation between U.S. and Russian forces are “as good as they have ever been,” particularly in the area of counterterrorism. 

{mosads}Washington and Moscow routinely run joint training missions and exercises, along with robust information-sharing operations, to assist each country’s counterterrorism capabilities, according to Warren. 

Mot recently, both countries wrapped up the Vigilant Eagle exercise, which featured a scenario in which American and Russian forces worked together to take down a commercial airliner hijacked by terrorists. 

Warren’s comments regarding possible military support to Russia echo those of National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden. 

“The United States stands in solidarity with the Russian people against terrorism. The U.S. government has offered our full support to the Russian government in security preparations,” Hayden said in a statement Monday. 

A series of bombings and attacks over the weekend have rocked the southern Russian city of Volgograd. 

Roughly 16 people were killed and scores more wounded when an explosion rocked the city’s main railway station, while a second bombing aboard a commuter bus killed at least 14 people on Monday, according to multiple reports.

Volgograd is a main transportation hub into Sochi, the site of the upcoming 2014 Olympic Winter Games. 

The southern Russian city is also located along the border of the contentious North Caucus region, has long been a hotbed for Islamic fundamentalist groups. 

Fighters from the area have reportedly made their way to battlefields in Syria and Afghanistan. 

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, one of the two brothers accused in the Boston Marathon bombing earlier this year, allegedly made contact with militant Islamic groups while visiting the Northern Caucus area of Dagestan.

Russian authorities are still investigating the recent terrorist attacks, but no group has claimed responsibility for the strikes. 

Tags counterterrorism Pentagon Russia White House

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