Vladmir Markin, a spokesman for the country’s federal investigation agency, told the state-run news agency RIA Novosti that both explosions were terrorist attacks.
“This strike, which was cynically planned for the period of preparations for New Year’s celebrations, is one more attempt by terrorists to open a domestic front, sow panic and chaos, and trigger religious strife and conflicts in Russian society,” said a statement Monday by Russia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry.
“We will not back down and will continue our tough and consistent offensive” against terrorists, the ministry’s statement said, adding that such an enemy “can only be stopped by joint efforts” involving the international community.
The approaching Olympics
No one claimed responsibility for the Volgograd blasts, but they occurred several months after the leader of a Chechen separatist group pledged violence to disrupt the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics that begin on February 7.
International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach condemned the bombings as “a despicable attack on innocent people.
“The entire international movement joins me in utterly condemning this cowardly act,” Bach said in a statement, adding that he wrote Russian President Vladimir Putin to express condolences as well as “our confidence in the Russian authorities to deliver safe and secure Games in Sochi.”
The United States on Monday condemned the Volgograd attacks and offered its “full support to the Russian government in security preparations for the Sochi Olympic Games,” National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said in a statement.
“We would welcome the opportunity for closer cooperation for the safety of the athletes, spectators, and other participants,” Hayden said.
Volgograd is a major rail hub in southern Russia and a main transit point for people traveling by train to Sochi on the Black Sea, just over 600 miles (1,000 kilometers) to the southwest. Each day, thousands of passengers use the station in the city once called Stalingrad.