Vladimir Putin has announced that all flights by Russian aircraft travelling to Egypt are to be immediately suspended pending the outcome of the investigation into what caused Metrojet Flight 9268 to crash last week.
The head of Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation, Aleksandr Bortnikov, said there was a need for “absolute objectivity” in finding out the cause of the crash.
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So far ISIS have claimed responsibility for the crash which killed all 224 people on board, but evidence has also emerged that the CIA and Israel had conducted ‘war games‘ at the time of the crash in the exact location. This has led to Russia abstaining from making an official announcement as to the cause of the crash until all the facts are known.
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U.S. and U.K. officials said a terrorist attack could have brought down the Metrojet plane while Russian and Egyptian authorities have shied away from this explanation.
The Russian president’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters that the flight suspension would be in place until the cause of the crash was determined.
“The head of state agreed with these recommendations,” Peskov said, according to Russian news agency TASS. “Putin has instructed the government to look into the mechanisms of implementing these IAC [Interstate Aviation Committee] recommendations and ensure the return home of Russian citizens.”
Investigators were continuing to study the cause of the crash Friday, and Russian officials said their experts had taken fragments of the plane and soil samples as part of their own investigation to determine whether or not explosives were used. Militants in Sinai linked with the Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the downing of the aircraft.
Putin’s decision comes a day after he expressed anger with British Prime Minister David Cameron over his decision to suspend flights. There are approximately 45,000 Russians in Egypt, the Guardian reported.
The U.K. suspended its flights to the resort area of Sharm el-Sheikh and was in the process of trying to bring its citizens home Friday. The Metrojet flight was flying from Egypt to St. Petersburg when it crashed Saturday.