Putin Puts Up Massive ‘Ring of Steel’ Zone Around Sochi Ahead Of Games

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht

Russian President Vladimir Putin might have topped all security measures taken by any other county hosting the Olympics in history.

Today a restricted zone went up around the Olympics site in Sochi, where nothing can come in or go out until March 21, nearly a month after the Games have ended.

Spanning 60 miles across and 25 miles deep, security troops are patrolling the zone. Christian Science Monitor calls it the “ring of steel.”

Everyone in the area "will be subjected to near total surveillance."

Russian security is on high alert after two suicide bombings in Volgograd last week and threats from warlord Doku Umarov, leader of the Chechen terrorist organization Caucasus Emirate, to attack the Games.

"When we examine these recent Volgograd attacks, it's hard not to notice how well planned and well organized they were. They seem to have enjoyed a lot of logistical help," said Russia security expert Nikolai Petrov. "Terrorism has become a big business, and there are people with a real, material interest in keeping it going."

Russia spent $51 billion to host the Winter Olympics, and Putin has staked his reputation on the event.

"Putin's personal image is closely connected to the outcome of these Games,” said Gennady Gudkov, a former KGB security expert and an ex-Duma deputy. “So I am absolutely sure that whatever can be done, will be done.”

Veteran Kremlin critic Andrei Piontkovsky says Putin will protect internationals in Sochi, but leave the rest of the country vulnerable.

"This is Putin's basic promise to Russians, that he will make us safe," said Piontkovsky. "If we look back over the past 15 years, we can see that he never really kept that pledge. We've been hit over and over again.”

“But because of the Olympics, the whole world is watching,” he added. “It may be that the extraordinary concentration of security resources in Sochi means that city is safe, but what about the rest of the country? Even Moscow? If terrorists strike anywhere, it will seriously undermine faith in Putin."

Sources: CS Monitor, Newser