Kremlin says Putin thanked Trump for CIA tip on bombings

Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures during a news conference after BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) Summit in Xiamen, China, Sept. 5, 2017.

Reuters/Kremlin handout

Last Updated Dec 17, 2017 3:22 PM EST

Russian President Vladimir Putin called U.S. President Donald Trump Sunday to thank him for a CIA tip that helped thwart a series of bombings in St. Petersburg, the Kremlin said.

Putin expressed gratitude during the call for information provided by the CIA that allowed Russia's top domestic security agency to track down and arrest a group of suspects that was planning to bomb Kazan Cathedral and other crowded sites, the Kremlin said.

The Kremlin added that Putin asked Trump to convey gratitude to the CIA and assured him that Russian law enforcement agencies would hand over any information they get about potential terror threats against the United States, as they have done in the past.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed the call had taken place in a Sunday morning tweet. 

The conversation was the second phone call between the two leaders since Thursday, when Trump thanked Putin for his remarks "acknowledging America's strong economic performance," according to the White House.

During the first call, they also discussed during ways to work together to address North Korea's nuclear and ballistic weapons program, the White House said.

In an official White House readout released Sunday afternoon, Mr. Trump reportedly "appreciated the call and told President Putin that he and the entire United States intelligence community were pleased to have helped save so many lives."

"President Trump stressed the importance of intelligence cooperations to defeat terrorists wherever they may be," the statement read, adding in a nod to current terse U.S-Russia relations in light of the 2016 election, "Both leaders agreed that this serves as an example of the positive things that can occur when our countries work together."

According to the White House, Mr. Trump also phoned CIA Director Mike Pompeo "to congratulate him, his very talented people, and the entire intelligence community on a job well done!" 

The Federal Security Service, or FSB, announced Friday that seven suspected followers of the Islamic State group had been arrested for allegedly planning to carry out terror attacks in St. Petersburg this weekend.

The agency said the suspects were plotting a suicide bombing in a church and a series of other explosions in the city's busiest areas this coming weekend on IS orders. It said a search of a St. Petersburg apartment found explosives, automatic weapons and extremist literature.

Russian news reports said that the Kazan Cathedral was the prime target.

Russian TV stations ran footage of FSB operatives outside an apartment building detaining a suspect, who was later shown confessing that he was told to prepare homemade bombs rigged with shrapnel.

In a tweet following the leaders' call, the Kremlin released photos of the arrests in their own readout of the phone call. 

The reports included footage of a metal container, which the suspects used as a laboratory for making explosives, according to the FSB. Another video showed operatives breaking the doors and raiding an apartment used by other suspects.

Last week, the FSB said it also arrested several IS-linked suspects in Moscow, where they allegedly were plotting a series of suicide bombings over New Year's.

In April, a suicide bombing in the St. Petersburg's subway left 16 dead and wounded more than 50.