In anticipation of the 20th anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the United States and Russia will reportedly coordinate on a joint memorial for the dead, Vladimir Voronkov, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism, announced in a Wednesday press conference.
“If we talk about the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, we are working with our American colleagues to organize an event to commemorate the victims of the terrorists,” Russian government-owned news agency Tass quoted him as saying. “The victims of terrorists is one of the top issues on our office’s agenda. It is crucial to pay more attention to them and their plight.”
While Voronkov works for the United Nations, Tass claimed his remarks meant that the Russian government was in cooperation with Washington on the event. Voronkov’s remarks did not clarify who he meant when he said “we are working with our American colleagues.” He also did not elaborate on what form the memorial would take, nor did he identify any branch of the U.S. government with which his office is working to create it. The Biden administration has not announced any plans on a joint memorial.
The September 11 attacks were a series of plane hijackings orchestrated by the radical Islamist terrorist organization Al-Qaeda targeting American landmarks. The terrorists crashed two of the planes into the World Trade Center in New York City and another into the Pentagon. A fourth plane did not reach its intended target as passengers resisted and caused a premature crash. Nearly 3,000 people died in the attacks and thousands more sustained injuries.
This would not mark the first Russian-driven memorial to the dead, even within the United States. Russian artist Zurab Tsereteli constructed the Struggle Against World Terrorism monument, a massive metal tear, which stands in Bayonne, New Jersey. The monument was dedicated in 2006, on the fifth anniversary of the attacks.
Estimates of Russians who died in the attack vary, in part due to complexities over counting Russian-speaking victims from former Soviet nations other than Russia, the Moscow Times noted. Most estimates range from 25-75 Russians dead, though the lowest puts the figure at 16 victims.
Prior to the 9/11 attacks, Russia struggled with Muslim militants in the southern region of Chechnya. In the early 1990s, Dzhokhar Dudayev led a coup in Chechnya and formed a breakaway republic, which the Russian military under then-President Boris Yeltsin failed to subdue. In 1999, as one of his first major acts on the world stage, then-Prime Minister Vladimir Putin dramatically escalated Moscow’s military operations in the area and coerced the separatists back into the Russian Federation.
Chechen terrorists have since orchestrated numerous bombings, hostage seizures, and political assassinations. A bomb attack took out Akhmad Kadyrov, the Moscow-endorsed Chechyan president in 2003.