HELSINKI, November 10. /TASS/. No link can be traced so far between the Russian aerospace force operation in Syria and Russia’s A321 airliner crash in Egypt, the investigation is unlikely to be completed this year, Russian presidential administration chief Sergei Ivanov told reporters on Tuesday.
"I see no relation between them. The cause of the plane crash has not been finally established. The terror act is just one of the probed versions. I strongly doubt, having taken part in the investigation of several air crashes, that the probe will be completed this year," Ivanov said.
He recalled that the downing of the American plane over Scotland [On December 21, 1988, Pan Am Flight 103 exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing all 259 people on board and 11 on the ground] was investigated during four years, and only after that the verdict was announced. "The layout of the aircraft fragments in hangar is at least needed to establish precisely and not theoretically the reasons for the airliner’s crash. This means that the plane’s wreckage should be transported from the crash site to a hangar in Cairo, laid out there and examined for several weeks and maybe several months. The chemical study of the scrapes made from the fragments may also continue for months. So now it’s absolutely premature to unambiguously declare the verdict. The terror act is just one of the versions. But even an explosion on board the aircraft may occur for very different reasons," Ivanov said. He added that "only the fragments’ layout will finally show where the explosion occurred."
Ivanov said that it is clear "that everyone wants the results as quickly as possible, but this never happens in reality, so it is necessary to be patient and wait for the actual findings of the probe commission."
On Friday, November 6, Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed with the recommendations of the National Anti-Terrorist Committee (NAC) and ordered to suspend air service with Egypt. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov explained that the measure will be in force not until the end of the investigation of Kogalymavia Flight 9268 crash over Sinai on October 31 but rather until appropriate security measures are ensured. Putin also ordered to assist Russian citizens in returning from Egypt.
Russian Kogalymavia’s A321 plane en route from Sharm el-Sheikh to St. Petersburg crashed on October 31 around 30 minutes after takeoff in North Sinai, 100 kilometers to the south of Al-Arish. Flight 9268 carried 217 passengers and seven crewmembers. Egyptian authorities said no one survived in the crash. Most passengers were Russian nationals.
Meanwhile, Russian Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov said that air service between Russia and Egypt would be resumed after Cairo imposes international-level security measures. "It is a difficult issue. It [air service] will be resumed when security requirements at Egyptian airports conform to international standards and it is confirmed by the corresponding services," he told journalists. He said he was ready to report to Russian President Vladimir Putin about the situation with the suspension of flights to Egypt.