#Russia hosts many religions and ethnic groups and when the Soviet Union collapsed it was the battlefield for many clashes. These memories returned with the news of the terrorist attack on the Metro station in #Saint Petersburg yesterday.
On Monday afternoon an explosion hit the Tekenologchesky Metro station in Saint #Petersburg.
The toll so far is of 11 dead and 45 injured. Despite initial reports of explosions at other stations the Russian National Anti-Terrorist Committee announced that there has only been one explosion.
The attack coincided with a visit by Russian President #Vladimir Putin to his home town. So far there is no confirmation of the identity of the attacker in what appears to have been a suicide attack, nor of the motives of his actions.
According to the BBC the suspect was a man in his early 20s from “Central Asia” with contacts with Islamist groups. If the initial reports are correct then this will dismiss speculation of Chechen terrorists resuming activities in Russia.
Russia had already been the scene of terrorist attacks by Chechens not only on Metro stations but also other high profile targets.
In 2002 120 hostages died during an attack on a theatre in Moscow and in 2004 330 people, half of them children, died in an attack on a school in Beslan, Southern Russia. In 2010 38 people died in two Metro stations in Moscow due to two female suicide bombers.
Those responsible for these attacks were Islamic terrorists from Chechnya one of the regions involved in fighting as a result of the dissolution of the former Soviet Union when various ethnic groups fought for their independence.
In recent years the terrorist threat had virtually disappeared partly due to aggressive Russian anti-terrorist activities against the various terrorist cells and in part as the Islamist fighters enrolled to fight in Syria for ISIS. In many cases Chechen fighters have been identified as the most active and fearsome members of the erstwhile Caliphate’s troops.
The recent entry into of Russian into the conflict in Syria in support of the Bashar al-Assad dictatorship once more brought Russia into the sights of the Islamic terrorists with the bombing of as Russian Metrojet flight 9268 in Egypt last July killing all 224 people aboard..
With the continued defeats of ISIS in Syria the Caliphate has reportedly directed members of its forces back to their home countries to continue the fight against the countries who fought them in Syria. Yesterday’s attack may be the result of this order.
In any case, even though the Islamist threat is the most likely possibility, it would be unwise for the Kremlin to discount any possibility.
Vladimir Putin’s aggressive foreign policy in recent years has raised concerns amongst Russia’s neighbours. In recent months the Baltic States, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia which were once members of the former Soviet Union have publicly raised their concerns of Russian intentions in the zone and NATO has increased its presence in Eastern Europe in a show of solidarity for these countries.
In addition, the tensions between the Ukraine and Russia may also be a possible source of the attack in the light of Russia’s 2014 annexation of the Crimea. The fighting between the two countries has never totally ceased and it too is cause for concern on the part of NATO.
As a result the attack on Saint Petersburg has drawn justified international interest as shown by the telephone call between Vladimir Putin and United States President Donald Trump yesterday.
Yet the international community cannot take any statement from Russia at face value. The Kremlin has constantly shown that it is capable of taking advantage of any situation for its strategic aims and may use this attack to justify its actions in the future.
We are yet to know the true reason for yesterday’s attack and so the White House would do well to wait before making any commitments as a result of the attack. #Terror Attack