An article in the Moscow Times about Russia’s security measures in Sochi makes for disturbing reading.
It reports that U.S. National Counterterrorism Center director Matthew Olsen told the Senate Intelligence Committee last week:
The biggest issue from my perspective is not the Games themselves, the venues themselves. There is extensive security at those locations — the sites of the events. The greater threat is to softer targets in the greater Sochi area, in the outskirts beyond Sochi, where there is a substantial potential for a terrorist attack.
So it seems that the anti-Russia terrorists have a horrifying litany of options available to them if they want to avoid the security cordon around the actual Olympics venues in Adler and Krasnaya Polyana:
- Attack Sochi-bound traffic in Moscow, far from the Sochi “ring of steel.”
- Attack “soft targets” like hotels and restaurants in Sochi itself, just outside the “ring of steel.”
- Attack a Russian city left unguarded and previously inaccessible as Russian security forces are diverted en masse to Sochi.
As to the third option, one wonders if the people of Russia were asked whether they’d be willing to sacrifice one of their cities to a Dubrovka or a Beslan in order to keep the Sochi venues safe from harm.
Moreover, the MT reports: “It seems that Sochi is indeed experiencing problems with accommodating all the security personnel sent to the city. Last month, two police officers from St. Petersburg tried to flee from Sochi, saying that living and working conditions were ‘inhumane,’ Fontanka.ru reported. The news article featured a photograph of two police officers sleeping on the floor in a tiny room.”
So it seems that there are already questions as to how firm the “ring of steel” around the Olympics venues in Sochi actually is. If security personnel are being forced to live like animals, it’s a safe bet that they are at least a little distracted from their work, and therefore vulnerable.
The security operations are secret, but the general preparations for the games are not, and a recent photo spread in the Washington Post provides disturbing proof of how sloppily the latter are proceeding. The Post shows that stray dogs roam the streets, which are still covered with mud and innumerable construction projects which have not been completed, and that the hotel rooms lack basic amenities such as phones.
If Russia can’t get such simple things right, how likely is it that the security preparations have been flawless?