US to evacuate citizens from Russia in case of Olympics threat
Washington: The United States has arranged for its citizens to be evacuated from Russia in case of any security threats during the Winter Olympics in Sochi next month, Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel said.
"If we need to extract our citizens, we will have appropriate arrangements with the Russians to do that," Hagel said during a joint news conference with his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian, yesterday.
Later, a senior administration official said that there is an understanding between the US and Russia to co-ordinate on this issue, in the case of an untoward incident.
"I think what the Secretary is referring to is simply the broad-level discussions that he has had with his counterpart, and a mutual understanding between the two defence establishments that obviously, if there was a need to do something, we would be able to coordinate and consult on that and do it in a proper way," the official said.
"As of right now, the Russians have not requested any specific assistance or technology. We want them to know that, if they need our help, we want to help. We will we`ll have two ships in the Black Sea during that time. So whatever we can do, we want to do to help. But right now, there has been no request from the Russian government for any particular assistance," Hagel said.
Yesterday, the State Department also issued a travel alert for its citizens intending to travelling to Russia to attend the Olympics.
The Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games will take place in Sochi from February 7 to March 16.
Some 10,000 US tourists are estimated to attend the Games.
As private citizens, these individuals are responsible for their own tickets, travel, reservations, visas, and overall logistics.
"That said, the US consular services will be in Sochi in force. And in fact, indeed US officials already are on location in Sochi to provide information, support, and appropriate services for Americans visiting a foreign country," the official said.
As part of efforts to protect its citizens in Sochi, the US has Diplomatic Security agents and representatives from other agencies in the federal government, including the FBI and others on the ground.
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