Russia's conflicts with Islamist forces over half a century are key to understanding the likely motives behind an Islamic State group (IS) attack last month at a Moscow concert hall, analysts say.

From the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 to Russian involvement in Syria and Africa and the Kremlin's links with Iran, Moscow has often played a role in conflicts involving radical Islamist interests.

Russia has said it detained 12 people over the March 22 attack, including the four gunmen who shot dozens of concert-goers and then set the Crocus City Hall venue on fire in the deadliest attack in Russia for two decades.