3 Weeks to Sochi: Are Russian Security Forces Ready?

Security vets point to gaps in Russian law enforcement: Corruption, resource limitations and pride.

A woman and a police officer walk in front of Bolshoy Ice Dome in the Coastal Cluster on Monday, Jan. 20, 2014, in Alder, Russia.
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"In fact, I think the reverse is happening," he added. "The Russians have grown more and more concerned over the threat and are concerned over the perception of insecurity, and therefore have not wanted to allow the United States and other security services in on the ground to assist."

Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., expressed grave concerns earlier this week.

""What we're finding is that [the Russians are] not giving us the full story on what the threat streams are, who do we need to worry about," Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told CNN. "Are those groups – the terrorist groups – who have had some success, are they still plotting? There's a missing gap."

Criticism of the U.S.-Russia relationship surged following the bombings at the Boston Marathon and reports that Russian authorities knew the Tsarnaev brothers were a potential threat for lone-wolf strikes. It remains unclear how the two countries have repaired that disconnect.

When asked about the two countries' relationship leading up to the games, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki only cited existing and general interaction between the two powers.

"We've had discussions on counterterrorism cooperation in a number of venues with the Russians, including in working groups of the Bilateral Presidential Commission," she said on Jan. 9. "We've also been working with the Russian government through the International Security Events Group on preparations for the Olympics, as we do with any host country.

"And our counterterrorism cooperation increased, of course, around the terrorist attack at the Boston Marathon, and we welcome any efforts and willingness and openness to cooperate around the Olympics."

[OPINION: Obama's Top Olympic Priority Must Be Keeping Americans Safe]

Psaki declined to elaborate, saying she would not discuss private conversations.

Jeff Mankoff, deputy director of the CSIS Russia and Eurasia Program, highlighted what he believes is one of the most dangerous facets of Russian culture approaching the beginning of the games.

"By almost all accounts, these are going to be the most expensive Olympic Games ever, upwards of $50 billion. As much as a third of that may have just simply been embezzled or stolen," he said at the Tuesday event.

He cited the bombing of a Russian aircraft in 2004. Chechen attackers were able to get on board by bribing a ticket-taker.

"Now, what does this all have to do with security? Well, I think operationally the security services can be supremely effective, but they're only – in the macro sense – as effective as their weakest link," Mankoff said. "And in a lot of cases the weakest link is corruption."

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