'Who benefits'?: Putin says 'radical Islamists' carried out Moscow attack but reiterates Ukraine had a role

Putin did not name Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP) in his statement

Russia Shooting Duty to Warn Russian President Vladimir Putin

As Russia reels from the shock of the Moscow concert hall terrorist attack, President Vladimir Putin said "radical Islamists" were behind the concert attack, but also hinted that Kyiv may have played a role. Putin reiterated his remarks about Ukraine's role in the attack even Kyiv and other Western nations denied Kyiv's involvement.  The Russian President had previously said that the "assailants were caught as they were trying to flee to Ukraine, where a window for crossing the border was prepared for them".

'We know that the crime was carried out by the hand of radical Islamists with an ideology that the Muslim world has fought for centuries," Putin said in remarks posted on the Telegram messaging app. "The question that arises is who benefits from this?" Putin said. "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 at the hands of the neo-Nazi Kyiv regime. We know by whose hand the crime against Russia and its people was committed. But what is of interest to us is who ordered it." 

Putin said the attempt was to sow panic. He said as the Russian forces were advancing through the Ukraine war theatre, it could also be intended to "show their own population that not all is lost for the Kyiv regime". 

However, Putin didn’t mention Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP), the Afghan branch of the Islamic State group that claimed responsibility for the attack, in his speech. 

Earlier, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky denied Putin's claims, accusing him of seeking to "shift the blame" onto Kyiv. "What happened yesterday in Moscow is obvious: Putin and the other scum are just trying to blame it on someone else," Zelensky said on Putin's allegations that the suspects had been seen fleeing towards Ukraine.

Even the US and France too rubbished Putin's claims about Ukraine's involvement. While the US claimed it had been monitoring ISIS and was able to give the Russians a warning about a "potential terrorist attack," French President Emmanuel Macron told reporters that the available information "indicates indeed that it was an entity of the Islamic State that instigated this attack."

"This group also tried to commit several actions on our own soil," he said during a visit to French Guiana. He added that France could help Russia find the culprits. "I think it would be both cynical and counterproductive for Russia itself and the security of its citizens to use this context to try and turn it against Ukraine." 

Meanwhile, Alexander Bastrykin who heads Russia's Investigative Committee, told the Kremlin meeting the death toll had risen to 139, with 182 people wounded. The authorities have arrested four men of Tajik origin, who were produced on Monday before Moscow's Basmanny district court on suspicion of carrying out the attack. 

Eleven more people had been detained, including the four suspected gunmen. Putin told a meeting that the men had been on their way to the Bryansk region, about 340 km (210 miles) southwest of Moscow, to try to slip into Ukraine.  


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