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Boston Bombing could have U.S.-Russia Implications

Published: April 20, 2013 | 2:38 pm
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(CNA)-With authorities identifying two ethnic Chechen brothers as the suspects responsible for the Boston Marathon bombings, the hot-and-cold U.S.-Russian relationship is facing an unexpected twist, USA TODAY reports.

Early in President Obama’s first term, his administration proposed a “reset” in the historically complicated relationship with Russia, which resulted in a short warming of relations between the countries.

The White House won’t give details of any coordination they’ve had with Russian officials since identifying Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev as the suspects for Monday’s blasts in Boston.

But on Friday evening, Obama spoke with Putin and “praised the close cooperation that the United States has received from Russia on counterterrorism, including in the wake of the Boston attack,” according to a White House statement.

Even before the Chechen connection surfaced publicly on Friday, Putin condemned the explosions as a “disgusting” crime and offered to help the U.S. investigation in any way he could. On Friday, the suspects’ father, who is living in Russia, told CNN that he had been questioned by Russian authorities before being released.

In recent years, Russia watchers say that cooperation on security matters has diminished as the USA and Russia increasingly find themselves at odds on a host of issues, ranging from the war in Syria to corruption in Moscow.

Chechnya sought independence after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and subsequently separatist groups fought two bloody wars with the authorities in Moscow.

Militants have also made several high-profile terror attacks in Russia and the North Caucasus region over the years, but have never targeted the United States. In the most notable incident, they took over a school in Beslan in the North Ossetia region in 2004. When the siege ended, more than 330 people had died — half of them children.

Today, violence has been reduced dramatically in Chechnya, but it continues to simmer there and elsewhere in the North Caucasus region.

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