When Russia started bombing extremists in Syria last month, news and intelligence reports suggested its missiles were not trained on the Islamic State—the threat it said it was going after—but instead on rebels fighting against the Assad government, Moscow’s longtime ally.
But that was before a plane fell out of the sky, and civilians were shot and blown up in Paris and Beirut.
After days of hedging, Moscow on Tuesday confirmed that Metrojet Flight 9268 was brought down over Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula by an“improvised explosive device,” which detonated soon after takeoff and tore the aircraft apart in midair. In remarks that were televised nationwide, President Vladimir Putin set the tone of his country’s air campaign in Syria moving forward.
“We should pursue them without any statute of limitations and should know all of them by name,” Putin said of the perpetrators of the plane crash. “We will be looking for them wherever they would try to hide. We will find them in any part of the world and punish them.”
The Russian investigation into the crash did not place blame on the Islamic State, whose Sinai branch has claimed responsibility. But on Tuesday, Moscow sharply intensified its air strikes against Islamic State targets in Syria.