Russia has suspended all flights to Egypt, with President Vladimir Putin accepting a security recommendation from his Federal Security Bureau (FSB).
The announcement comes after several days of Russian officials insisting they were not convinced a bomb brought down a Metrojet plane over the Sinai on Saturday, killing all 224 people aboard. The United Kingdom has been suspending flights since the incident, leaving some 20,000 British tourists stranded in Egypt.
Intelligence officials from the UK and US have said it was likely a bomb planted by ISIS or one of its Egyptian affiliates that destroyed the plane, but the Russians and Egyptians have strenuously resisted this conclusion, saying months of investigation would be necessary to determine the cause of the crash.
The BBC reports FSB chief Aleksandr Bortnikov recommended a flight suspension during an anti-terrorism committee meeting in Moscow on Friday morning. President Vladimir Putin accepted this recommendation shortly afterwards.
Egyptian resistance to the bomb theory appears to be weakening as well. The Washington Post reports chaos at the airport in the resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh on Friday morning, as Britons anticipating evacuation flights home were told by budget carrier EasyJet that “rescue plans that were put in place yesterday have been suspended by the Egyptian authorities.”
Egyptian authorities blamed these suspensions on “the limited runway and luggage storage capacity of the airport in the Red Sea resort,” according to the Post. Anonymous British officials said their government was working with the Egyptians to get evacuation flights restarted. The BBC reports that only two of 10 scheduled flights were able to depart on Friday.
British investigators are on the ground in the Sinai Peninsula, looking over wreckage from the plane. According to another BBC report, these investigators are growing more confident that a bomb in the cargo hold of the plane, inserted by someone who had access to the baggage compartment, caused the crash. British officials see the possibility of a technical fault causing the crash as “increasingly unlikely.”