TULSA - With less than two weeks until the Winter Olympics in Sochi, an expert on Russian affairs is talking about security ahead of the games.
Dr. Robert Donaldson, a former professor at the University of Tulsa who has studied the country for more than 50 years, says this year's winter Olympics is taking place nearby one of the most unruly areas in the Russian Federation.
“There’s a group in the Northern Caucasus of Russia…who have made explicit threats and who are responsible for previous terrorist incidents,” Donaldson said.
Donaldson says the Chechens, who have struggled against Moscow for decades, are seeking to establish a new Islamic state separate from Russia.
“What they’re interested in is trying to bring an extremist form of Islamic rule to the whole area, “Donaldson said.
Donaldson believes potential attacks are a very serious threat to the games, but he says he thinks the Russians can keep the athletes safe during the games in Sochi, though other nearby sites may be at risk.
"I think the Russian security force have a lot of experience with those terrorist organizations and they are large and they have very thorough methods... They've done extensive preparation and one can't certainly fault the seriousness in which they take this," Donaldson said.
Donaldson says the real concern for Russia is that the attacks may take place in areas security agencies aren't prepared to protect.
"There is a very serious threat and I think the Russians are very worried about it and with good reason because this group is desperate," Donaldson said.
Donaldson believes even though the Russians have imposed extensive security measures, he thinks it's important for them to work with the U.S. to keep visitors and athletes safe.
"The Russians have a great deal of pride in their own capability, but I think there's been some behind the scenes cooperation," Donaldson said.
NBC News reports top U.S. military officials are sending two navy warships into the black sea in case of a terrorist attack at the Winter Olympics.