By Ahmed Abbas
The Kremlin confirmed that Britain supplied Moscow with intelligence regarding the Russian plane crash in Sinai.
“I can confirm that the British side provided us with ‘certain’ data,” Russia’s presidential press-secretary, Dimitry Peskov told the state-owned Russia Today TV channel.
Peskov refused to clarify the nature of said data, and did not answer whether that information influenced the decision taken by Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday to suspend flights to Egypt.
“We’ve said more than once that any reaction to rumours quoting anonymous sources is impossible. We will not make any response this time, too.”
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said the investigators are considering one of the possible causes for the crash of the Russian A321 jet was a terrorist attack. “The possibility of a terrorist act, of course, remains among the reasons of what had happened,” he told a local Russian newspaper.
The suspension of flights to Egypt was carried out for “security purposes”, he said, noting that it is also expected that the suspension will not be “shot term” and Russian tourists may sue the government for compensations.
The head of Air Bus, the manufacturer of the Russian plane, told AFP that no technical failure has yet been detected. “ Well beyond the emotion and the compassion after this tragedy, I can say that so far, what we got from the investigation didn’t trigger any action, technical action on our side, regarding the A-321 fleet,” said Fabrice Bregier, Air Bus CEO.
British Foreign Minister Philip Hammond said, during a meeting with his US counterpart in Washington, they have not yet discussed the consequences of the possibility that the passenger plane crashed over Sinai due to an explosive device placed on board the plane.
“The right answers to whether there was a bomb or not will be known after the investigations, which we do not control. The Egyptians and Russians can answer this,” Hammond said.
The UK made its decisions based on its own data, which cannot be fully disclosed. Britain shared everything it could and could not provide any further details due to obvious reasons.
The Egyptian Ministry of Tourism told the Russian official agency TASS that the losses of the Egyptian tourism sector are estimated to be $4m daily after Russia decided to suspend flights and evacuate its tourists.
Russians and British citizens form up to 70% of the tourists visiting Egypt, according to the ministry. A total of 3.1 million Russian tourists visited Egypt in 2014.
According to Russian Rostourism Tourism Agency, about 80,000 Russians were staying in Egypt as of Friday, 15,000 of whom were evacuated.
Russian experts expect it would take at least two weeks to audit Egyptian airports before Russian flights to Egypt can be resumed.
Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on Sunday that bans tourism companies from selling any packages, including transportation by air, to Egypt.