Foreign travel advice
There is a high threat from terrorism. The main terrorist threat in Russia comes from Islamist and rebel groups in the North Caucasus, but attacks aren’t limited to this region. Previous attacks have seen large numbers of casualties.
In 2011, 37 people were killed at Domodedovo international airport in Moscow, including a British national; and in 2013, 3 suicide bombings targeted public transport in Volgograd.
Russian aviation has also been targeted. On 31 October 2015, a Russian flight from Sharm el Sheikh (Egypt) to St Petersburg crashed in North Sinai. Russian authorities stated the crash was caused by an explosive device on board the plane.
Although there’s no indication that British nationals or interests have been specific targets, attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners. You should be vigilant in all public places, including major transport hubs, tourist sites and crowded areas – particularly where access isn’t controlled (eg open-air events and markets). Previous attacks have targeted transport infrastructure. Further attacks are likely, and could take place anywhere in Russia.
In the North Caucasus, while the number of casualties from ongoing violence has reduced in recent years, there continue to be frequent attacks and skirmishes between rebel groups and Russian forces in the republics of Dagestan, Chechnya, Ingushetia and Kabardino-Balkaria.
Attacks also take place elsewhere in the North Caucasus, and in other parts of Russia. The threat from terrorism could rise quickly in relation to any escalation of violence in the North Caucasus.
In 2015, Daesh announced the establishment of an affiliate in the North Caucasus. Many rebel leaders announced they had switched their allegiance to Daesh. Daesh North Caucasus has claimed responsibility for a number of small-scale attacks, mainly in Dagestan, targeting law enforcement personnel.
In August 2016, Daesh claimed an attack in which two traffic police were killed in Moscow. Russian authorities announced in December 2016 that the leader of Daesh North Caucasus had been killed in a counter-terrorism operation in Dagestan.
In 2016, the Russian authorities conducted several high profile raids against alleged Daesh-linked individuals in cities across Russia, including St Petersburg, Ekaterinburg and Moscow.
Security services conduct frequent counter-terrorism operations in the North Caucasus republics, and elsewhere in Russia. These can be at short notice and involve restrictions on travel.
There is considered to be a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.
Find out more about the global threat from terrorism, how to minimise your risk and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack.
There is a history of kidnapping in the North Caucasus region and westerners have been particularly vulnerable. The long-standing policy of the British government is not to make substantive concessions to hostage takers as paying ransoms and releasing prisoners increases the risk of hostage taking.