Drones, anti-missile systems, 40,000 police officers, 30,000 military personnel and 30,000 additional security.. these are the precautions Vladimir Putin has set in place for the 2014 Winter Olympics to be held in Sochi, Russia. He is calling these security measures the "ring of steel"
. And while Putin's word play on the Olympic rings is a little silly and maybe even sounds like something straight out of a comic book (like so much of what he does), apparently the threats to the upcoming games are very real and potentially very dangerous indeed. So far, Russia has spent a whopping $2 billion in security preparations alone.
One of the major threats Putin's "ring of steel" is being commissioned to defuse are "black widow
" suicide bombers. To clarify, the term "black widow", in this case, refers to certain women that become suicide bombers in order to avenge husbands or male relatives killed in Russia's fight against Islamic militants. The idea and threat here being that women will come to the Winter Olympics and blow themselves up on the world stage to make their protest and sacrifice as public as possible, while simultaneously disrupting Russia's wish to show they can host a safe and effective Olympics. So, there's that.
Another threat comes in the form of a video tape. Allow me to explain. Two Islamic men put a video online making a vague threat that something will happen if and when the Olympics take place. The two men are claiming they are responsible for one of the two bombings that happened in Volgograd, Russia that reportedly killed 34 Russians just weeks ago. Here's in part what they had to say:
"As for the Olympics, something that you really want, we've prepared a present for you. You do your business and we'll do ours... We've prepared a present for you and all tourist who'll come over...
Watching the video online
, it's hard not to take their threat seriously.
The black widows and the two men from the threatening video tape are part of a larger Russian problem known as the "Caucasus Emirate". The Caucasus Emirate
is an umbrella term used to describe all the loosely associated "terrorists" that have spawned from Russia warring with Islamic factions in their country.
With that, geography will play a large part in the security risks with Sochi. Separatist and jihadi groups from a faction of the Emirate known as the 'North Caucasus' are from Chechnya and Dagestan, located some 500 kilometers from Sochi. The supposed bombers of Volgograd are located roughly 600 kilometers from Sochi as well.
It's strange to think that Russia would chose to host the Olympics in such a location that's within relative striking distance of people that have both means and motive to terrorize the event. Not to mention the fact that Sochi, Russia is considered a resort town that experiences a tropical climate. Aside from neighboring terror cells that are vocalizing intent to attack, there may not even be enough snow
for the Olympic Games to game with! With their vast expanse of country, surely there could have been a more suitable locale for these winter games.
The potential for violence and corresponding beefed up security measures have easily been the number one story surrounding this particular Winter Olympic Games. It's a shame that Russia's internal conflicts and seemingly poor choice of a host city are casting such an ominous shadow over this event. Olympians should be concerned with the games, not for their lives.
The "Ring Of Steel" is 100,000 strong. Let's hope that's enough.