Putin says radical Islamists attacked Moscow, still seeks Ukraine link


Vladimir Putin He blamed Islamic terrorists for the first time for a deadly attack on a Moscow concert hall, even as he sought to tie Ukraine and the West to the worst atrocity in the Russian capital for two decades.
The Russian president said radical Islamists attacked Moscow's Crocus City Hall on Friday night, killing 139 people, but investigators were digging deeper to find out who was behind it.
“We know whose hands committed this atrocity against Russia and its people,” Putin told a meeting of top officials late Monday. “We're interested in who ordered it.”
Putin avoided mentioning the Islamists on Saturday in his first public comments on the violence late Friday, although Islamic State claimed responsibility. Ukraine has flatly denied any involvement, while US officials say Islamic State is solely responsible for the attack.
“We also see that the United States, through various channels, is trying to convince its satellites and other countries of the world that, according to their intelligence data, there is no trace of Kiev in the Moscow terrorist attack, that the bloody terrorist attack was carried out by followers of Islam, members Isis The organization is banned in Russia,'' Putin said.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, formerly of X, said in a post on Twitter that the Kremlin's “only goal is to inspire more Russians to die in their senseless and criminal war against Ukraine.” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has called the attack a Russian false flag operation.
Earlier this month, the US shared information with Russia about a possible terrorist attack in Moscow, which Putin described as an attempt to “intimidate and destabilize our society” three days before the attack on the Crocus City Hall. Was publicly rejected.
The violence was the largest casualty loss in a terrorist attack in Moscow since Chechen separatists took hostages at the Nord-Ost theater in 2002. At least 170 people, including dozens of attackers, were killed during a failed rescue operation.
Earlier on Monday, Russian authorities showed footage in court of four men accused of carrying out the concert hall attack after their interrogation revealed they originated from Tajikistan.
The Moscow court service said on its Telegram channel that two people had admitted involvement. All four have been kept in custody till May 22. It did not provide any information on the petitions of the other two.
A Moscow court also ordered the arrest of three more people in connection with the attack, the service on Telegram said.
The scale of the tragedy has shocked Russians and shattered the illusion of stability in a city largely untouched by violence in recent years, including after Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Putin's response is raising fears in Russia that he could call for another mass mobilization to escalate the war, now in its third year.
Putin said in a televised address on Saturday that security services had captured four suspects as they tried to flee Ukraine. Although he did not directly accuse Ukrainian authorities of involvement in the attack, Putin said a “window” had been created for people to cross the border.
The attack came less than a week after Putin strengthened his grip on Russia by claiming a fifth term with 87% of the vote in a presidential election whose outcome was a foregone conclusion. The election results have allowed the Kremlin to claim it has overwhelming public support for the war in Ukraine and confrontation with the West.

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