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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Putin Concedes ‘Radical Islamists’ Responsible for Moscow Terror Attack

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a significant departure from previous statements, publicly acknowledged on Monday that the recent terror attack in Moscow was perpetrated by Islamic militants. However, he once again attempted to divert blame towards his favored scapegoat, Ukraine.

During televised remarks following a videoconference meeting with regional officials, special services, and law enforcement agencies, Putin stated, “We know that the crime was carried out by radical Islamists.” Despite this admission, he insinuated that Ukraine might be behind the attack, asserting that the Kremlin was investigating “who ordered” the assault.

Putin further insinuated, “The question that arises is who benefits from this? This atrocity may be just a link in a whole series of attempts by those who have been at war with our country since 2014 by the hands of the neo-Nazi Kyiv regime.”

This reference to 2014 harks back to Russia’s controversial annexation of Crimea from Ukraine and the subsequent conflict in eastern Ukraine, which has been supported by Kremlin-backed fighters. Putin’s implication of Ukraine’s involvement in the Moscow attack appeared to be an attempt to deflect attention from any potential security lapses on the part of the Russian government.

Despite earlier warnings from the U.S. Embassy in Russia regarding potential terrorist threats, Putin swiftly shifted the blame to Ukraine following the attack. However, with no concrete evidence supporting his assertion and a claim of responsibility by a branch of the Islamic State jihadist group, Putin was eventually compelled to mention ISIS during his remarks on Monday.

Also Read: West criticizes Putin’s re-election; China, India strengthen ties

Yet, Putin, known for his strong-man image and authoritarian regime, hinted that Russia’s stance on various global issues, including its relationship with Hamas and its position on the Israel-Gaza conflict, might deter ISIS from targeting Russia. However, this assertion seemingly disregarded ISIS’s history of hostility towards Russia, including previous attacks claimed by the group.

Moreover, Putin’s support of Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria against ISIS during the civil war, as well as past ISIS attacks in regions like the Caucasus, demonstrated the group’s capability to target Russia and its interests.

In contrast, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky vehemently denied any involvement in the terror attack and accused Putin of employing familiar tactics to justify further aggression against Ukraine. Zelenskyy criticized Putin’s approach, stating, “It’s obvious that Putin and other thugs are just trying to blame someone else.”

The attack at Crocus City Hall in Moscow last Friday marked the deadliest incident in Russia in two decades, resulting in the deaths of at least 139 individuals and significant damage to the building. Authorities have since apprehended seven suspects in connection with the attack.

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