Home Daily Blitz Russian Metro Bombing Puts Putin’s Syria Policy To The Test

Russian Metro Bombing Puts Putin’s Syria Policy To The Test

Russian president Vladimir Putin puts flowers down outside Tekhnologicheskiy Institut metro station in St. Petersburg, Russia, April 3, 2017. REUTERS/Grigory Dukor

The following is an excerpt from Denis Dyomkin and Christian Lowe | April 4, 2017 | Reuters.com |

Islamist militants have targeted Russia many times before but Monday's bombing of a metro train in St Petersburg was, for President Vladimir Putin, personal: it happened in his native city on a day he was making a visit back home.

The attack, which killed 14 people and wounded 50, is also a test for one of Putin's most contentious policies - his decision to launch a military intervention in Syria on the side of President Bashar al-Assad.

Kremlin-watchers say the risk is that Russian voters could decide, after seeing the destruction in St Petersburg, that the Syrian operation is making them more vulnerable to such attacks - not safer as Putin promised.

That would be problematic for Putin, who faced a new wave of anti-corruption protests last month, before a presidential election next year when he is expected to seek a fourth term.

The main suspect in the blast, Akbarzhon Jalilov, is a Russian citizen from mainly Muslim Kyrgyzstan. No group has said it was behind the attack but in the past Islamic State has threatened to avenge Syria. It already said it was responsible for bringing down a planeload of Russian tourists over Egypt's Sinai peninsula in 2015, killing all 224 people on board.

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