Putin vows payback after Kremlin confirms bomb downed Russian plane over Egypt

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MOSCOW, Nov 17 (Reuters) - President Vladimir Putin vowed to hunt down those responsible for blowing up a Russian airliner over Egypt and intensify air strikes against Islamists in Syria, after the Kremlin concluded a bomb had destroyed the plane last month, killing 224 people.

"We will find them anywhere on the planet and punish them," Putin said at a somber Kremlin meeting broadcast on Tuesday. The FSB security service swiftly announced a $50 million bounty on the bombers.

SEE ALSO: France seeks EU security aid, launches new airstrikes in IS

Until now, Russia had played down assertions from Western countries that the Oct. 31 crash was the work of terrorists, saying it was important to let the official investigation run its course.

See photos of the Russian plane crash in Egypt wreckage and aftermath:

23 PHOTOS
Russian plane crash in Egypt wreckage and aftermath
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Putin vows payback after Kremlin confirms bomb downed Russian plane over Egypt
Debris belonging to the A321 Russian airliner are seen at the site of the crash in Wadi el-Zolmat, a mountainous area in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula on November 1, 2015. International investigators began probing why a Russian airliner carrying 224 people crashed in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, killing everyone on board, as rescue workers widened their search for missing victims. AFP PHOTO / KHALED DESOUKI (Photo credit should read KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images)
SUEZ, EGYPT - NOVEMBER 01: A plane part is seen as the Egyptian officials inspect the crash site of Russian Airliner in Suez, Egypt on November 01, 2015. A Russian Airbus-321 airliner with 224 people aboard crashed in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula on yesterday. According to Egypts Civil Aviation Authority, the plane had been lost contact with air-traffic controllers shortly after taking off from the Egyptian Red Sea resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh en route to St Petersburg. (Photo by Alaa El Kassas/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Debris of the A321 Russian airliner lie on the ground a day after the plane crashed in Wadi al-Zolomat, a mountainous area in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, on November 1, 2015. International investigators began probing why the Russian airliner carrying 224 people crashed in the Sinai Peninsula, killing everyone on board, as rescue workers widened their search for missing victims. AFP PHOTO / KHALED DESOUKI (Photo credit should read KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Debris of the A321 Russian airliner lie on the ground a day after the plane crashed in Wadi al-Zolomat, a mountainous area in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, on November 1, 2015. International investigators began probing why the Russian airliner carrying 224 people crashed in the Sinai Peninsula, killing everyone on board, as rescue workers widened their search for missing victims. AFP PHOTO / KHALED DESOUKI (Photo credit should read KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images)
SUEZ, EGYPT - NOVEMBER 01: Egyptian officials inspect the crash site of Russian Airliner in Suez, Egypt on November 01, 2015. A Russian Airbus-321 airliner with 224 people aboard crashed in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula on yesterday. According to Egypts Civil Aviation Authority, the plane had been lost contact with air-traffic controllers shortly after taking off from the Egyptian Red Sea resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh en route to St Petersburg. (Photo by Alaa El Kassas/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
SUEZ, EGYPT - NOVEMBER 01: Egyptian officials inspect the crash site of Russian Airliner in Suez, Egypt on November 01, 2015. A Russian Airbus-321 airliner with 224 people aboard crashed in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula on yesterday. According to Egypts Civil Aviation Authority, the plane had been lost contact with air-traffic controllers shortly after taking off from the Egyptian Red Sea resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh en route to St Petersburg. (Photo by Alaa El Kassas/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
CAIRO, EGYPT - OCTOBER 31: Ambulances bring the bodies of the victims found at crash site of Russian Airliner, at Zinhoum Hospital's Morgue in Cairo, Egypt on October 31, 2015. A Russian Airbus-321 airliner with 224 people aboard crashed in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula on Saturday, according to the Egyptian Prime Minister's office. According to Egypts Civil Aviation Authority, the plane lost contact with air-traffic controllers shortly after taking off from the Egyptian Red Sea resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh en route to St Petersburg. (Photo by Ibrahim Ramadan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
CAIRO, EGYPT - OCTOBER 31: Ambulances bring the bodies of the victims found at crash site of Russian Airliner, at Zinhoum Hospital's Morgue in Cairo, Egypt on October 31, 2015. A Russian Airbus-321 airliner with 224 people aboard crashed in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula on Saturday, according to the Egyptian Prime Minister's office. According to Egypts Civil Aviation Authority, the plane lost contact with air-traffic controllers shortly after taking off from the Egyptian Red Sea resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh en route to St Petersburg. (Photo by Ibrahim Ramadan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
CAIRO, EGYPT - OCTOBER 31: Ambulances bring the bodies of the victims found at crash site of Russian Airliner, at Zinhoum Hospital's Morgue in Cairo, Egypt on October 31, 2015. A Russian Airbus-321 airliner with 224 people aboard crashed in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula on Saturday, according to the Egyptian Prime Minister's office. According to Egypts Civil Aviation Authority, the plane lost contact with air-traffic controllers shortly after taking off from the Egyptian Red Sea resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh en route to St Petersburg. (Photo by Ibrahim Ramadan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
CAIRO, EGYPT - OCTOBER 31: Ambulances bring the bodies of the victims found at crash site of Russian Airliner, at Zinhoum Hospital's Morgue in Cairo, Egypt on October 31, 2015. A Russian Airbus-321 airliner with 224 people aboard crashed in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula on Saturday, according to the Egyptian Prime Minister's office. According to Egypts Civil Aviation Authority, the plane lost contact with air-traffic controllers shortly after taking off from the Egyptian Red Sea resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh en route to St Petersburg. (Photo by Ibrahim Ramadan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Egyptian ambulance arrives to Kabret military air base by the Suez Canal on October 31, 2015, after victims of a Russian airliner that crashed in the Sinai Peninsula were brought to the base before being transported to a morgue. Egypt's government said 15 bodies have been recovered and transferred to a morgue so far from the site of the crash. AFP PHOTO / KHALED DESOUKI (Photo credit should read KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Egyptian paramedics load the corpses of Russian victims of a Russian passenger plane crash in the Sinai Peninsula, into a military plane at Kabret military air base by the Suez Canal on October 31, 2015. Egypt's government said 15 bodies have been recovered and transferred to a morgue so far from the site of the crash. AFP PHOTO / KHALED DESOUKI (Photo credit should read KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images)
SUEZ, EGYPT - OCTOBER 31: Egyptian officials receives the corpses of 34 passengers, found at crash site of Russian Airliner, at Kabret Military Base in Suez, Egypt on October 31, 2015. A Russian Airbus-321 airliner with 224 people aboard crashed in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula on Saturday, according to the Egyptian Prime Minister's office. According to Egypts Civil Aviation Authority, the plane lost contact with air-traffic controllers shortly after taking off from the Egyptian Red Sea resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh en route to St Petersburg. (Photo by Mostafa El Shemy/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Egyptian ambulances line up at Kabret military air base by the Suez Canal on October 31, 2015, after victims of a Russian airliner that crashed in the Sinai Peninsula were brought to the base before being transported to a morgue. Egypt's government said 15 bodies have been recovered and transferred to a morgue so far from the site of the crash. AFP PHOTO / KHALED DESOUKI (Photo credit should read KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images)
An Egyptian ambulance waits at Kabret military air base by the Suez Canal on October 31, 2015, after victims of a Russian airliner that crashed in the Sinai Peninsula were brought to the base before being transported to a morgue. Egypt's government said 15 bodies have been recovered and transferred to a morgue so far from the site of the crash. AFP PHOTO / KHALED DESOUKI (Photo credit should read KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images)
SUEZ, EGYPT - OCTOBER 31: Egyptian officials receives the corpses of 34 passengers, found at crash site of Russian Airliner, at Kabret Military Base in Suez, Egypt on October 31, 2015. A Russian Airbus-321 airliner with 224 people aboard crashed in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula on Saturday, according to the Egyptian Prime Minister's office. According to Egypts Civil Aviation Authority, the plane lost contact with air-traffic controllers shortly after taking off from the Egyptian Red Sea resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh en route to St Petersburg. (Photo by Alaa El Kassas/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Egyptian ambulances carrying the corpses of Russian victims of a Russian passenger plane crash in the Sinai Peninsula, off load the bodies into a military aircraft at Kabret military air base by the Suez Canal on October 31, 2015. Egypt's government said 15 bodies have been recovered and transferred to a morgue so far from the site of the crash. AFP PHOTO / KHALED DESOUKI (Photo credit should read KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Egyptian police officers stand guard outside the Zeinhom Morgue in Cairo on October 31, 2015, as they wait for the victims of the Russian charter plane. A Russian plane carrying 224 people crashed in a mountainous part of Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, killing everyone on board, officials said. AFP PHOTO /MOHAMED EL-SHAHED (Photo credit should read MOHAMED EL-SHAHED/AFP/Getty Images)
Egyptian police officers stand guard, next to graffiti condemning police brutality, outside the Zeinhom Morgue in Cairo on October 31, 2015, as they wait for the victims of the Russian charter plane. A Russian plane carrying 224 people crashed in a mountainous part of Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, killing everyone on board, officials said. AFP PHOTO /MOHAMED EL-SHAHED (Photo credit should read MOHAMED EL-SHAHED/AFP/Getty Images)
Egyptian police officers stand guard outside the Zeinhom Morgue in Cairo on October 31, 2015, as they wait for the victims of the Russian charter plane. A Russian plane carrying 224 people crashed in a mountainous part of Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, killing everyone on board, officials said. AFP PHOTO /MOHAMED EL-SHAHED (Photo credit should read MOHAMED EL-SHAHED/AFP/Getty Images)
Egyptian police officers stand guard outside the Zeinhom Morgue in Cairo on October 31, 2015, as they wait for the victims of the Russian charter plane. A Russian plane carrying 224 people crashed in a mountainous part of Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, killing everyone on board, officials said. AFP PHOTO /MOHAMED EL-SHAHED (Photo credit should read MOHAMED EL-SHAHED/AFP/Getty Images)
Egyptian police officers stand guard outside the Zeinhom Morgue in Cairo on October 31, 2015, as they wait for the victims of the Russian charter plane. A Russian plane carrying 224 people crashed in a mountainous part of Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, killing everyone on board, officials said. AFP PHOTO /MOHAMED EL-SHAHED (Photo credit should read MOHAMED EL-SHAHED/AFP/Getty Images)
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But four days after Islamist gunmen and bombers killed at least 129 people in Paris, Alexander Bortnikov, the head of the FSB, told a late night meeting that traces of foreign-made explosive had been found on fragments of the downed plane and on passengers' personal belongings.

"According to an analysis by our specialists, a homemade bomb containing up to 1 kilogram of TNT detonated during the flight, causing the plane to break up in mid air, which explains why parts of the fuselage were spread over such a large distance," said Bortnikov at the meeting in footage released by the Kremlin.

"We can unequivocally say it was a terrorist act," he said.

Egyptian authorities have detained two employees of Sharm al-Sheikh airport for questioning in connection with the downing of the Russian jet, two security officials and an airport employee said on Tuesday.

"Seventeen people are being held, two of them are suspected of helping whoever planted the bomb on the plane at Sharm al-Sheikh airport," said one of the security officials who both declined to be named.

RELATED: Russia mourns the 224 victims of the fatal crash

23 PHOTOS
Russia mourns victims of plane crash in Egypt
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Putin vows payback after Kremlin confirms bomb downed Russian plane over Egypt
A man looks at candles and flowers in Simferopol on November 1, 2015 in memory of the victims of a jetliner crash. Russia mourned its biggest ever air disaster after a passenger jet full of Russian tourists crashed in Egypt's Sinai, killing all 224 people on board. A Russian airliner that crashed in Egypt broke up 'in the air', an investigator said on November 1, as the bodies of many of the 224 people killed on board were flown home. AFP PHOTO / MAX VETROV (Photo credit should read MAX VETROV/AFP/Getty Images)
SAINT PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - NOVEMBER 1: People mourn the victims of Airbus A321 crash at the Palace Square on November 1, 2015 in St. Petersburg, Russia. A Russian Airbus-321 aircraft with 224 people aboard crashed in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula on October 31. According to Egypt's Civil Aviation Authority, the plane lost contact with air-traffic controllers shortly after taking off from the Egyptian Red Sea resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh en route to St. Petersburg. (Photo by Alexander Aksakov/Getty Images)
A woman reacts in central Saint Petersburg on November 1, 2015, as people gather to light candles in memory of the victims of a jetliner crash. Flags flew at half-mast in Russia on November 1 as the country mourned its worst air disaster after a jetliner full of Russian tourists crashed in Egypt, killing all 224 on board. AFP PHOTO / OLGA MALTSEVA (Photo credit should read OLGA MALTSEVA/AFP/Getty Images)
SAINT-PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - NOVEMBER 1: Russian people lay flowers, toys and light candles to memory of Russian plane accident in Egypt on October 31, at Dvortsovaya square in Saint-Petersburg, Russia on November 1, 2015. (Photo by Sergey Mihailicenko/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Women look at candles and flowers in Simferopol on November 1, 2015 in memory of the victims of a jetliner crash. Russia mourned its biggest ever air disaster after a passenger jet full of Russian tourists crashed in Egypt's Sinai, killing all 224 people on board. A Russian airliner that crashed in Egypt broke up 'in the air', an investigator said on November 1, as the bodies of many of the 224 people killed on board were flown home. AFP PHOTO / MAX VETROV (Photo credit should read MAX VETROV/AFP/Getty Images)
SAINT PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - NOVEMBER 01: A woman holds a candle at a memorial for the victims of Airbus A321 crash at the Pulkovo Airport on November 1, 2015 in St. Petersburg, Russia. A Russian Airbus-321 aircraft with 224 people aboard crashed in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula on October 31. According to Egypts Civil Aviation Authority, the plane lost contact with air-traffic controllers shortly after taking off from the Egyptian Red Sea resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh en route to St. Petersburg. (Photo by Alexander Aksakov/Getty Images)
SAINT PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - NOVEMBER 01: A woman cries near a 'memorial' to the victims of the Airbus A321 crash at the Pulkovo Airport on November 1, 2015 in St. Petersburg, Russia. A Russian Airbus-321 aircraft with 224 people aboard crashed in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula on Saturday. According to Egypts Civil Aviation Authority, the plane lost contact with air-traffic controllers shortly after taking off from the Egyptian Red Sea resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh en route to St. Petersburg. (Photo by Alexander Aksakov/Getty Images)
SAINT PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - NOVEMBER 01: People mourn the victims of Airbus A321 crash at Pulkovo Airport on November 1, 2015 in St. Petersburg, Russia. A Russian Airbus-321 aircraft with 224 people aboard crashed in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula on Saturday. According to Egypts Civil Aviation Authority, the plane lost contact with air-traffic controllers shortly after taking off from the Egyptian Red Sea resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh en route to St. Petersburg. (Photo by Alexander Aksakov/Getty Images)
SAINT PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - NOVEMBER 01: Candles, toys and flowers are seen at the 'memorial' of the victims of the Airbus A321 crash at the Pulkovo Airport on November 1, 2015 in St. Petersburg, Russia. A Russian Airbus-321 aircraft with 224 people aboard crashed in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula on Saturday. According to Egypts Civil Aviation Authority, the plane lost contact with air-traffic controllers shortly after taking off from the Egyptian Red Sea resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh en route to St. Petersburg. (Photo by Alexander Aksakov/Getty Images)
SAINT PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - NOVEMBER 01: People mourn the victims of Airbus A321 crash at Pulkovo Airport on November 1, 2015 in St. Petersburg, Russia. A Russian Airbus-321 aircraft with 224 people aboard crashed in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula on Saturday. According to Egypts Civil Aviation Authority, the plane lost contact with air-traffic controllers shortly after taking off from the Egyptian Red Sea resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh en route to St. Petersburg. (Photo by Alexander Aksakov/Getty Images)
Relatives react at Pulkovo international airport outside Saint Petersburg after a Russian plane with 224 people on board crashed in a mountainous part of Egypt's Sinai Peninsula on October 31, 2015. Ambulances reached the site and began evacuating 'casualties,' officials and state media reported, without elaborating on their condition. The plane took off early in the morning from the southern Sinai resort of Sharm el-Sheikh bound for Saint Petersburg in Russia but communication was lost 23 minutes after departure, officials said. AFP PHOTO / OLGA MALTSEVA (Photo credit should read OLGA MALTSEVA/AFP/Getty Images)
Relatives react at Pulkovo international airport outside Saint Petersburg after a Russian plane with 224 people on board crashed in a mountainous part of Egypt's Sinai Peninsula on October 31, 2015. Ambulances reached the site and began evacuating 'casualties,' officials and state media reported, without elaborating on their condition. The plane took off early in the morning from the southern Sinai resort of Sharm el-Sheikh bound for Saint Petersburg in Russia but communication was lost 23 minutes after departure, officials said. AFP PHOTO / OLGA MALTSEVA (Photo credit should read OLGA MALTSEVA/AFP/Getty Images)
SAINT PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - OCTOBER 31: Relatives of passengers of Russian Airbus-321 aircraft react at Pulkovo international airport in Saint Petersburg, Russia on October 31, 2015. A Russian Airbus-321 aircraft with 224 people aboard crashed in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula on Saturday, according to the Egyptian Prime Minister's office. According to Egypts Civil Aviation Authority, the plane lost contact with air-traffic controllers shortly after taking off from the Egyptian Red Sea resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh en route to St Petersburg. (Photo by Sergey Mihailicenko/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Relatives react at Pulkovo international airport outside Saint Petersburg after a Russian plane with 224 people on board crashed in a mountainous part of Egypt's Sinai Peninsula on October 31, 2015. Ambulances reached the site and began evacuating 'casualties,' officials and state media reported, without elaborating on their condition. The plane took off early in the morning from the southern Sinai resort of Sharm el-Sheikh bound for Saint Petersburg in Russia but communication was lost 23 minutes after departure, officials said. AFP PHOTO / OLGA MALTSEVA (Photo credit should read OLGA MALTSEVA/AFP/Getty Images)
A relative reacts at Pulkovo international airport outside St Petersburg after an Airbus A321 of Russian airline Kogalymavia with 224 people on board crashed in a mountainous part of Egypt's Sinai Peninsula on October 31, 2015. Egypt has recovered the black box of the Russian airliner that crashed on October 31 in the restive Sinai Peninsula, killing all 224 people on board, the prime minister's office said. The plane took off early in the morning from the southern Sinai resort of Sharm el-Sheikh bound for Saint Petersburg in Russia but communication was lost 23 minutes after departure. AFP PHOTO / OLGA MALTSEVA (Photo credit should read OLGA MALTSEVA/AFP/Getty Images)
A relative reacts at Pulkovo international airport outside Saint Petersburg after a Russian plane with 224 people on board crashed in a mountainous part of Egypt's Sinai Peninsula on October 31, 2015. Ambulances reached the site and began evacuating 'casualties,' officials and state media reported, without elaborating on their condition. The plane took off early in the morning from the southern Sinai resort of Sharm el-Sheikh bound for Saint Petersburg in Russia but communication was lost 23 minutes after departure, officials said. AFP PHOTO / OLGA MALTSEVA (Photo credit should read OLGA MALTSEVA/AFP/Getty Images)
SAINT PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - OCTOBER 31: A relative of passengers of Russian Airbus-321 aircraft reacts at Pulkovo international airport in Saint Petersburg, Russia on October 31, 2015. A Russian Airbus-321 aircraft with 224 people aboard crashed in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula on Saturday, according to the Egyptian Prime Minister's office. According to Egypts Civil Aviation Authority, the plane lost contact with air-traffic controllers shortly after taking off from the Egyptian Red Sea resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh en route to St Petersburg. (Photo by Sergey Mihailicenko/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
SAINT PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - OCTOBER 31: Relatives of passengers of Russian Airbus-321 aircraft react at Pulkovo international airport in Saint Petersburg, Russia on October 31, 2015. A Russian Airbus-321 aircraft with 224 people aboard crashed in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula on Saturday, according to the Egyptian Prime Minister's office. According to Egypts Civil Aviation Authority, the plane lost contact with air-traffic controllers shortly after taking off from the Egyptian Red Sea resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh en route to St Petersburg. (Photo by Sergey Mihailicenko/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Relatives wait for information at Pulkovo international airport outside Saint Petersburg after a Russian plane with 224 people on board crashed in a mountainous part of Egypt's Sinai Peninsula on October 31, 2015. Ambulances reached the site and began evacuating 'casualties,' officials and state media reported, without elaborating on their condition. The plane took off early in the morning from the southern Sinai resort of Sharm el-Sheikh bound for Saint Petersburg in Russia but communication was lost 23 minutes after departure, officials said. AFP PHOTO / OLGA MALTSEVA (Photo credit should read OLGA MALTSEVA/AFP/Getty Images)
SAINT PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - OCTOBER 31: Relatives of passengers of Russian Airbus-321 aircraft react at Pulkovo international airport in Saint Petersburg, Russia on October 31, 2015. A Russian Airbus-321 aircraft with 224 people aboard crashed in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula on Saturday, according to the Egyptian Prime Minister's office. According to Egypts Civil Aviation Authority, the plane lost contact with air-traffic controllers shortly after taking off from the Egyptian Red Sea resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh en route to St Petersburg. (Photo by Sergey Mihailicenko/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Relatives wait at the Pulkovo international airport outside St. Petersburg after a Russian plane with 224 people on board crashed in a mountainous part of Egypt's Sinai Peninsula on October 31, 2015. Ambulances reached the site and began evacuating 'casualties,' officials and state media reported, without elaborating on their condition. The plane took off early in the morning from the southern Sinai resort of Sharm el-Sheikh bound for Saint Petersburg in Russia but communication was lost 23 minutes after departure. AFP PHOTO / OLGA MALTSEVA (Photo credit should read OLGA MALTSEVA/AFP/Getty Images)
SAINT PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - OCTOBER 31: Relatives of passengers of Russian Airbus-321 aircraft react at Pulkovo international airport in Saint Petersburg, Russia on October 31, 2015. A Russian Airbus-321 aircraft with 224 people aboard crashed in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula on Saturday, according to the Egyptian Prime Minister's office. According to Egypts Civil Aviation Authority, the plane lost contact with air-traffic controllers shortly after taking off from the Egyptian Red Sea resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh en route to St Petersburg. (Photo by Sergey Mihailicenko/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
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The Airbus A321, operated by Metrojet, had been returning Russian holiday makers from Sharm al-Sheikh in Egypt to St Petersburg when it broke up over the Sinai Peninsula, killing all on board. A group affiliated with Islamic State claimed responsibility, but until Tuesday Russia had said terrorism was just one possible scenario.

RETRIBUTION

Putin, wearing a dark suit, presided over a minute of silence in memory of the victims at the Kremlin meeting, before telling security and military chiefs the incident was one of the bloodiest crimes in modern Russian history and ordering the air force to intensify its air strikes in Syria in response.

"Our air force's military work in Syria must not simply be continued," he said. "It must be intensified in such a way that the criminals understand that retribution is inevitable."

Putin said he expected military chiefs to present him with specific proposals on how Russia could ramp up its campaign. His spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters Putin was expected to visit the defense ministry later on Tuesday.

A senior French government source said Russia had already launched air strikes against the Islamic State stronghold of Raqqa in northern Syria on Tuesday, a sign, the source said, that Russia was becoming more concerned about the threat posed by IS.

Russia began air strikes in Syria at the end of September. It has always said its main target is Islamic State, but most of its bombs in the past hit territory held by other groups opposed to its ally, President Bashar al-Assad.

Putin, in language reminiscent of how he talked about Chechen militants during a war when he came to power 15 years ago, ordered the secret services to hunt down those responsible.

"We must do this without any statute of limitations and we must find out all their names," he said, invoking Russia's right to self defense under the United Nations charter.

"Anyone who tries to help the criminals should know that the consequences for trying to shelter them will lie completely on their shoulders." (Additional reporting by Maria Kiselyova, Vladimir Soldatkin and Daria Korsunksya in Moscow; Editing by Christian Lowe and Peter Graff)


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