MOSCOW — After President Barack Obama and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia spoke by telephone Monday, a top Russian official said cooperation between the leaders’ intelligence services had “noticeably intensified in the past few days,” though he said Russia had not been able to provide valuable intelligence about the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
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 in Russia for many years.”
Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry S. Peskov, repeated that phrase after the two presidents spoke Monday, but he said cooperation between the countries’ counterterrorism and intelligence services had improved to new levels as a result of the Boston bombing.
“This aroused praise from Putin and Obama, and their satisfaction,” Peskov told the Interfax news service, adding that cooperation on intelligence “on the whole promotes mutual confidence in bilateral relations.”
The White House offered a more reserved account of the two leaders’ conversation, noting “the close cooperation that the United States has received from Russia on the Boston Marathon attack.”
Ten days after it was revealed that the suspects were young men with roots in Russia, U.S. 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 that Russia has not been forthcoming with intelligence it gathered on him.
Russia has sought to ratchet up cooperation with the West on global terrorism, a project that could provide new flows of information and quiet longstanding complaints about its often brutal counterterrorism tactics in the North Caucasus. Yuri Ushakov, a top Putin aide, said the two presidents Monday “reached a practical agreement on most active contacts” between Russian and U.S. intelligence services. He said the conversation — initiated by the U.S. side — focused on intensified cooperation “in the context of the recent Boston bombing.”
Over the weekend the newspaper Novaya Gazeta reported that during his six-month stay in Russia in 2012, Tamerlan Tsarnaev was seeking to join the Muslim insurgency and had been spotted with known militants.