Experts are sceptical if security services are up to the task

President Vladimir Putin vowed to destroy all terrorists in Russia but experts are sceptical that Russian security services are up to this challenging task.

”We will confidently, fiercely and consistently continue the fight against terrorists until their complete annihilation," Mr. Putin said in his first reaction to the deadly suicide bombings in the southern city of Volgograd, which killed at least 34 people.

The Russian leader made the pledge a New Year address to the nation before flying to Volgograd on Wednesday to meet wounded victims in hospital and confer with top counter-terrorism officials.

The Volgograd attacks, denounced by Mr. Putin as “hideous crime,” occurred 700 km and six weeks away from the Winter Olympic Games in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi.

During his 13 years at the helm Mr. Putin has repeatedly promised to “wipe out” terrorists. However, while Chechnya has been largely pacified, terrorism has spread across the North Caucasus, in direct proximity to the venue of the coming Olympics.

Veterans of Russia’s famed anti-terrorist group Alpha partly blamed the surge in terrorism on the degradation of Russia’s secret services.

“We have lost our entire network of informers in North Caucasus,” said Igor Barinov, who headed an Alpha unit in Chechnya in 1993-2003. “Funding dried up and we often had to pay informers from our own pocket.”

The anti-terror budgets have grown manifold in recent years, but the secret services continue to neglect infiltrating terrorist cells, which is the best way to thwart terrorist strikes.

“The double bombings in Volgograd show that our secret services have no reliable informers among terrorists, do not know their plans and cannot avert their attacks,” said Sergei Goncharov, President of the Alpha Veterans Association.

“Once a terrorist is on the road to bomb a railway station, we can do little to stop him,” said Alexei Filatov of the Alpha Veterans. “Acts of terror can only be foiled at planning stages, and there is no better way of doing it than having agents and informers.”

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