US sends warships to Black Sea amid Sochi security threat

The USS Mount Whitney. Picture via Wikimedia Commons

The first of two warships has sailed from Italy in a high-profile sign of US efforts to protect Americans at the Winter Olympics – and at least two dozen FBI agents are on their way to Russia.

Islamic militants have threatened to derail the Sochi games, which run from February 7-23.

The USS Mount Whitney set sail from Gaeta, Italy, yesterday, and the US Navy frigate USS Taylor is expected to leave from Naples today.

FBI director James Comey said the FBI was in constant contact with Russian authorities as the games approached and said he spoke to the head of the Russian Federal Security Service yesterday.

Mr Comey said Russian authorities faced a serious threat and he wanted the FBI to be ready to help.

Russian and US defence chiefs, including Pentagon supremo Chuck Hagel, have discussed the Olympic security threat. The US has offered to help in any way needed, but no specific assistance has been requested.

The Pentagon has said the US warships were deploying to the Black Sea as part of normal military planning and could perform any required missions, including communications or evacuations.

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