Not all cooperation ended, but it has been limited and confined largely to technical liaison work. When FSB director Alexander Bortnikov attended a counter-terrorism event in Washington in 2015, it stirred controversy but almost no policy progress — given that he was on the European sanctions list and a prime mover behind the Crimean annexation.
On one level, the Kremlin’s evident eagerness to engage in counter-terrorism cooperation is reason enough to be wary. It is hardly known for its altruism. Although Moscow was prompt and helpful after 9/11, there was an implicit quid pro quo that not least saw some of their more brutal tactics in Chechnya overlooked. Greater cooperation today, especially in any “framework of broader international efforts,” would inevitably be used to excuse atrocities in Syria and as a lever to open wider cracks in any walls being built around Moscow.
Besides, intelligence-sharing is always transactional, curated, and revealing. Transactional in that the Russians would expect at least as much in return as they offer. Curated in that, if past experience is anything to go by, they would share information that helps paint the picture they want to West to see, probably identifying all anti-Russian nationalists in the North Caucasus as terrorists, for example. Revealing, in that from the areas of Western interest, the Russians will be divining our strengths, weaknesses, and preoccupations.
But how useful will Russian cooperation be? The St. Petersburg bomb highlighted their lack of capacity confronting Central Asian jihadists. And while they do have more in the North Caucasus, that is with the exception of the Boston marathon bombers, not where primary threats for the West will appear. The Manchester bomber was reportedly a British citizen of Libyan origin — what could Moscow have offered?