2018 FIFA World Cup

2018 FIFA WC: The USA begins political "cold war" against Russia


XtraTime Web Desk: Trouble begins ahead of the FIFA World Cup 2018 in Russia, as the two political superpowers in the world, The USA and Russia begin a different war ahead of the biggest footballing show in the world.

Football fans should “think twice” about travelling to the World Cup in Russia this summer as consular services are threatened by the diplomatic crisis between Vladimir Putin and the west, a senior White House official has warned.

The tournament kicks off on 14 June under the shadow of tit-for-tat expulsions and what some describe as a new cold war. Boris Johnson, the British foreign secretary, has suggested Putin will seek to exploit the showpiece in the way Adolf Hitler milked the Olympic Games in Berlin in 1936.

The White House official warned anyone planning to attend: “I would think twice because we won’t have the same ability to protect our citizens or even just dealing with the regular consular affairs when we’re there. And the other countries too. You would have that concern in any country about having the lack of consular support.”

England have qualified for the finals but the USA have not. The UK foreign office saysconsular teams were available around the clock to assist the 20,000 England fans who visited Brazil for the last World Cup in 2014. The provision of such support will be more difficult in Russia in the present climate, the senior Trump administration official said.

“If you get into any kind of difficulty there, we just won’t have the wherewithal. People have accidents. They get ill, they need to be medevacked out. We’re not suggesting that there are going to be some major sets of incidents but it’s just those larger concerns.

We’re trying to work with the Russians on counter-terrorism as well. Any large sporting event, no matter what country now, is a target. And so we’ve now got less ability to be able to do that with the Russians than before because they’ve decimated the counterparts who would be dealing with this kind of thing, for the UK and the US.”

The official made clear that the US shares the UK conclusion that Russia was behind the attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, who were found poisoned on 4 March.

A former army colonel sentenced to jail in Russia for spying for Britain, Skripal arrived in the UK as part of a spy swap in 2010. The official said: “I think for our colleagues who work on intelligence, that was a definite rupture of the rules of the game. When you do a spy swap, you don’t expect then that they will be bumped off later.”

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