Russian President Vladimir Putin telephoned US President Donald Trump on Sunday to thank him for a tip-off that helped prevent a terrorist bomb attack on a cathedral in the Russia city of St Petersburg, the Kremlin said. Information provided by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) allowed Russian law-enforcement agencies to arrest the would-be attackers before they could carry out their plan, the Kremlin said in a statement posted on its Internet site. A senior Trump administration official confirmed Trump and Putin had spoken on Sunday. However, there was no immediate confirmation from U.S. authorities that they had shared the intelligence with Russian officials. The foiled attack was to have been carried out on Kazansky Cathedral, in Russia’s second city of St Petersburg, and on other locations in the city where large numbers of people gather, the Kremlin statement said. The cathedral is a popular tourist site.
Russian media reported last week that the Federal Security Service had detained followers of the Islamic State group who had been planning a suicide bomb attack on Kazansky Cathedral on Dec. 16. “The Russian President thanked his American colleague for the information passed on by the Central Intelligence Agency, which helped detain a group of terrorists preparing explosions in St Petersburg’s Kazansky Cathedral and other busy sites in the city,” the Kremlin said. The Kremlin did not give any details of the identity of the people detained. In their phone call, Putin asked Trump to pass on his thanks to the CIA officers who had gathered the intelligence, according to the Kremlin statement.
Putin said Russia would alert U.S. authorities if it received information about any attack being planned on the United States, the Kremlin said.
HISTORY OF ATTACKS
Relations between Washington and Moscow are fraught because of disagreements over Ukraine, Syria and arms control as well as allegations from Washington — denied by Russia — that the Kremlin meddled in last year’s U.S. presidential election. However, Russian officials say Putin believes Trump is not to blame for the tension, and has tried to keep personal lines of communication open between the two men. The Russian leader has said restoring ties between Moscow and Washington is vital because the two countries need to work together to counter global challenges, in particular the threat from violent Islamist radicals. Russia has repeatedly been the target of attacks by Islamist groups.
In April this year, 14 people were killed when an explosion tore through a train carriage in a metro tunnel in St Petersburg. Russian police detained several suspects from mainly Muslim states in ex-Soviet central Asia. In October 2015, Islamic State used an improvised bomb to bring down a Russian airliner over Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, killing all 224 people on board. In December 2013, two suicide bombers killed 34 people in attacks on a railway station and trolleybus in the Russian city of Volgograd.
More than 30 people were killed and around 130 injured in a suicide bombing at Moscow’s Domodedovo airport in January 2011. A year earlier, blasts struck Moscow metro stations during rush hour, killing 40 people.