Russia halts flights to Egypt as fallout from plane crash grows

Russia on Friday temporarily suspended all flights to Egypt over security concerns, following the crash of a Saint Petersburg-bound jet that intelligence officials suspect was bombed by terrorists.

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed off on the recommendation of the Federal Security Service — the head of Russia’s domestic intelligence agency — according to the Interfax news agency.

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The move adds to mounting international concern about flying into and out of Egypt following the crash of Metrojet Flight 9268 on Saturday, which killed all 224 people aboard. Earlier in the week, the United Kingdom announced that it was temporarily halting flights to and from the Egyptian resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh, the departure point for the Airbus A321.

The new flight suspension could also indicate that Russia is no longer ruling out that the bomb was planted on the flight by extremists tied to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The Kremlin had previously dismissed ISIS's claims that it was responsible for downing the plane into the Egyptian desert last weekend.

On Thursday, President Obama said that a terrorist plot was a “possibility” that the U.S. is “taking … very seriously.” 

On Capitol Hill, multiple lawmakers appear ready to accept the conclusion that the flight was bombed, even though U.S. intelligence is not yet definitive.

It was not immediately clear when suspension of Russian flights to Egypt would begin.

Most of the passengers killed in the plane crash were Russian. 

The Kremlin’s decision is a blow to Egypt’s tourism economy, which depends in large part on European vacationers.

In remarks after a meeting with U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron on Thursday, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi said that the two had discussed how to “restore the movement of tourists” in the “soonest time possible.”

“Those who come to Egypt to enjoy their time; those who we are very happy to receive in our country,” Sisi said during a press conference with Cameron.

According to reports, chaos reined at the Sharm el-Sheikh International Airport on Friday, as thousands of stranded international tourists sought for ways to leave the city.