Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Russia. Although these have mainly been by Islamist and rebel groups in the North Caucasus, attacks in other major cities and regions can’t be ruled out. Previous attacks, including in Moscow and St Petersburg, have seen large numbers of casualties, and Russian aviation has also been targeted:
- in April 2017, a suicide attack on the St Petersburg metro resulted in 15 deaths and many injuries
- in October 2015, a Russian flight from Sharm el Sheikh in Egypt to St Petersburg crashed in North Sinai, killing all on board. Russian authorities stated the crash was caused by an explosive device on board the plane
- in 2013, 3 suicide bombings targeted public transport in Volgograd, resulting in 41 deaths and many injuries
- in 2011, 37 people were killed, including a British national, and many others injured in a suicide bombing at Moscow Domodedovo airport.
Since December 2017, Russian security forces have disrupted several plots in major Russian cities, including Moscow, St Petersburg, Nizhny Novgorod and Stavropol. These plots are reported to have targeted public transport and crowded places. Terrorist groups, including Daesh and al-Qaeda aligned groups, continue to call for attacks in Russia.
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; and particularly where access isn’t controlled, for example at open-air events and markets. Previous attacks have targeted transport infrastructure.
In 2015, Daesh announced the establishment of an affiliate in the North Caucasus, and 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.
While the number of casualties from ongoing violence in the North Caucasus has reduced in recent years, there continues to be frequent attacks and skirmishes between rebel groups and Russian forces in the republics of Dagestan, Chechnya, Ingushetia and Kabardino-Balkaria. The threat from terrorism could rise quickly in relation to any escalation of violence in the North Caucasus.
Security services conduct frequent counter-terrorism operations in the North Caucasus and elsewhere in Russia. These can be at short notice and involve restrictions on travel.
There’s 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.
A number of western nationals, including British nationals, have previously been kidnapped in the North Caucasus and some have been killed by their captors. Those engaged in humanitarian aid work, journalism or business sectors are viewed as legitimate targets. If you’re kidnapped, the reason for your presence is unlikely to serve as a protection or secure your safe release.
The long-standing policy of the British government is not to make substantive concessions to hostage takers. The British government considers that paying ransoms and releasing prisoners increases the risk of further hostage taking. The Terrorism Act (2000) also makes payments to terrorists illegal.