Vladimir Putin thanks Donald Trump after CIA tip thwarts Russia terror attacks

Russian President Vladimir Putin has called US President Donald Trump to thank him for a CIA tip-off that helped thwart a series of Russia terror attacks in St Petersburg, the Kremlin says.

The CIA tip-off allowed Russia’s top domestic security agency to track down and arrest a group of suspects who were planning to bomb the city’s Kazan Cathedral and other crowded sites, the Kremlin said.

“The information received from the CIA proved sufficient to find and detain the criminal suspects,” the Kremlin said.

Mr Putin also asked Mr Trump to convey gratitude to the CIA and assured him that Russian law enforcement agencies would hand over any information they get about potential Russia terror threats against the United States, as they have done in the past, the Kremlin added.

The White House did not disclose details about the plot itself, but said the attack “could have killed large numbers of people”.

The White House seized on the foiled plot as a sign of what Moscow and Washington could do if they cooperate.

“Both leaders agreed that this serves as an example of the positive things that can occur when our countries work together,” the White House said, adding Mr Trump appreciated the call from Mr Putin.

While Russian officials have said the two countries were continuing to exchange terror-related intelligence, the statement from the Kremlin was Russia’s first public assertion that information from the United States helped prevent an attack.

The conversation was the second phone call between the two leaders since Thursday, when Mr Trump thanked Mr Putin for his remarks “acknowledging America’s strong economic performance”, according to the White House.

Russia’s Federal Security Service, or FSB, announced on Friday that seven suspected followers of the Islamic State group had been arrested for allegedly planning to carry out Russia terror attacks in St Petersburg on December 16.

The agency said the suspects were plotting a suicide bombing in a church and a series of other explosions in the city’s busiest areas on IS orders.

It said a search of a St Petersburg apartment found explosives, automatic weapons and extremist literature.

Russian news reports said the Kazan Cathedral was the prime target.

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