Russian President Vladimir Putin has blamed terrorists for the air crash in Egypt that killed 224 people and has vowed to step up military strikes in Syria to punish those who carried out “one of the bloodiest crimes” against Russians.
“Not for the first time, Russia is confronted with barbaric terrorist crimes,” Mr Putin said during a meeting with meeting with defence and security chiefs.
“We won’t wipe the tears out of our souls and hearts. This will remain with us forever. But it won’t stop us from finding and punishing the perpetrators.
Mr Putin’s confirmation of a terrorist attack follows British and United States warnings that a bomb may have downed the Russian aircraft after it left the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh on October 31, bound for St Petersburg.
An Islamic State affiliate in Egypt’s Sinai peninsula claimed it blew up the plane in retaliation for Russia’s bombing campaign in Syria against the organisation and other militants fighting the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.
Traces of foreign-made explosives were discovered in the wreckage of the plane and on the possessions of people killed in the crash, Alexander Bortnikov, the head of the Federal Security Service, told Mr Putin at the meeting. Investigators calculated that a bomb containing 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) of explosive blew up the plane, he said.
Russia must know the names of all those involved in the crime, Mr Putin said. “We will hunt them everywhere, wherever they’re hiding. We’ll find them anywhere in the world and we’ll punish them,” he said.
Russian air strikes in Syria must continue and be increased “so these criminals understand that retribution is inescapable,” Mr Putin told Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu.
Russia also “counts on all of our friends” to help in hunting down those responsible. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov should “turn to all our partners” for assistance, Mr Putin said.
French President Francois Hollande will travel to Moscow and Washington D.C. next week to try to build up a coalition against Islamic State, following Friday’s terrorist attacks in Paris that killed at least 129 people, France’s Prime Minister Manuel Valls said.
French jets carried out new air strikes over Syria on Monday night “to destroy headquarters and an IS fighters’ camp and we will keep this up,” Mr Valls said on France Inter radio.
Russia’s FSB is offering a $50 million reward for information leading to the capture of those responsible for downing the aircraft in Egypt, state-run RIA Novosti reported, citing the security service’s press office.
Follow us: @smh on Twitter | sydneymorningherald on Facebook