Playing Moscow’s Game


Amy Knight in the NYRB blog:

It is a well-known fact that the Russian FSB (successor to the KGB) has infiltrated all the major rebel groups in these two territories. If, as numerous reports have claimed, Tamerlan [Tsarnaev] was regularly meeting with Islamic rebels in 2012, the FSB would have been aware of it. Russian authorities also would have known that he then returned to the US. Yet the Americans were told nothing about Tamerlan’s trip, or his meetings with radicals.

Instead of raising questions about Russia’s file on Tamerlan, US officials have gone out of their way since the bombings to thank Moscow for its help in fighting terrorism and welcome Russian security officials in Washington. All this has played into the Kremlin’s hands and helped reinforce its longstanding arguments that the Chechen rebels it has been fighting in a brutal counter-insurgency for years are part of a larger al-Qaeda-led group that has the goal of international jihad.

Consider what has happened in recent weeks. The head of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD), which oversees domestic crime-fighting, Vladimir Kolokoltsev, traveled to Washington, where he met with US Attorney General Eric Holder, Head of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, and FBI chief Robert Mueller. All three US officials, according to public reports of the meetings, supported more cooperation with Russia in the area of security and law enforcement. Muellereven promised to share FBI files with the Russians, saying that “such resources could be useful to Russian law enforcement agencies in view of the Sochi Olympics.

Meanwhile, Russian National Security Council chief Nikolai Patrushev also visited Washington and met with Barack Obama to deliver a letter from Russian President Vladimir Putin. Patrushev and Obama reportedly discussed the importance of “deepening counter-terrorism cooperation“ between Russia and the US.