WASHINGTON – Vladimir Putin phoned President Trump to thank him for what the Russian president said was CIA help in foiling a terrorist attack, the Kremlin said Sunday.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed the conversation. It was the second time that the two leaders had talked in four days; Trump called Putin Thursday to thank the Russian leader for praising the U.S. economy.
Putin, in his annual year-end news conference, had praised Trump for a strong performance by the U.S. stock market. Perhaps ironically, given his credit to the CIA’s recent help, Putin at that news event dismissed as “hysteria” the consensus among American intelligence agencies that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential campaign.
In reporting Putin’s call to Trump Sunday, the official Russian news agency Tass said Putin thanked his American counterpart for “information shared by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency” that had helped break up a plot to set off explosives in St. Petersburg’s Kazan Cathedral and elsewhere in the city, which is Russia’s second-largest.
Russian authorities last week credited their country’s counterintelligence service, the FSB, for foiling the attacks. They reported that seven people affiliated with Islamic State had been detained in St. Petersburg in connection with the plot. The FSB, the successor organization to the KGB, announced Friday that the group had planned to carry out the attacks Saturday, and that one of those in custody had confessed to the cathedral bomb plot.
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