After conversation on telephone between President Obama and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia on Monday, a top Russian official said cooperation between the leaders’ intelligence services had “noticeably intensified in the past few days.” though he added thatRussiahad not been able to provide valuable intelligence about the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
Mr. Putin said last week that the Federal Security Service was unable to provide “information which had operative value” about the Tsarnaev brothers, “due to the fact that the Tsarnaevs had not lived inRussiafor many years.”
Dmitri S. Peskov, Mr. Putin’s spokesman, repeated that phrase after the two presidents spoke on Monday, but he stated that cooperation between the countries’ counterterrorism and intelligence services had improved to better levels as a result of theBostonbombing.
Mr. Peskov told the Interfax news service that “This aroused praise from Putin and Obama, and their satisfaction.” Cooperation on intelligence “on the whole promotes mutual confidence in bilateral relations.” He added.
The White House offered a more reserved account of the two leaders’ conversation, noting “the close cooperation that theUnited Stateshas received fromRussiaon the Boston Marathon attack.”
It was after ten days, it was revealed that the suspects of the bombings were young men with roots inRussia. American investigators are still pushing for more information about the six months that Tamerlan Tsarnaev spent in the violent southern region of Dagestan last year, and some lawmakers have complained thatRussiahas not been forthcoming with intelligence it gathered on him.
Russiahas sought to ratchet up cooperation with the West on global terrorism, a project which could provide new flows of information and quiet longstanding complaints about its often brutal counterterrorism tactics in theNorth Caucasus. Yuri Ushakov, a top Putin aide, said the two presidents on Monday “reached a practical agreement on most active contacts” between Russian and American intelligence services. He said the conversation — initiated by the American side — focused on intensified cooperation “in the context of the recentBostonbombing.”
Over the weekend the newspaper Novaya Gazeta reported that during his six-month stay inRussiain 2012, Tamerlan Tsarnaev was seeking to join the Muslim insurgency and had been spotted with known militants. There has been no official comment from the Russian government on these reports, but an unnamed official told the Interfax news service on Monday that “there is no reliable information to this end.”
Russian intelligence services have neither publicly confirmed that Tamerlan Tsarnaev visited Dagestan nor verified American accounts of two warnings sent by the Russian F.S.B. in 2011 identifying Tamerlan as a potentially dangerous Islamic radical.
Mark Galeotti, a specialist in Russian security services atNew YorkUniversity, said cooperation between Russian and American intelligence had been awkward, in part because Americans agents are governed by stricter legal requirements and fear that information they pass toRussiamay be misused. Mr. Galeotti said American intelligence officers might hesitate, because “sometimes we just have vague hints about someone, and if we pass it to the Russians, at 2 in the morning, men in balaclava helmets are going to kick down his door.”