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Putin ally suggests US was ‘customer’ in Moscow concert hall attack

The leader of Russia’s national security council argued the United States was a “customer” in the deadly shooting at a Moscow concert hall last month, despite ISIS’s Afghanistan affiliate coming forward to take the blame for the attack that left about 145 people dead.

Russian leaders have repeatedly suggested the shooting at Crocus City Hall in the Eastern European nation’s capital city could be linked to Ukraine, which has recovered steadfast support from the U.S. in its war with Russia.

The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the shooting, and four men were swiftly charged with committing a terrorist attack resulting in the death of others following the March 22 incident.

“They are trying to impose on us that the terrorist act was committed not by the Kyiv regime, but by supporters of radical Islamic ideology, perhaps members of the Afghan branch of IS,” Russian security council head Nikolai Patrushev said Wednesday at a meeting with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a nine-nation regional security and economic group, according to The Associated Press.

“However, it is much more important to quickly establish who is the customer and sponsor of this monstrous crime. Its traces lead to the Ukrainian special services,” he added. “But everyone knows that the Kyiv regime is not independent and is completely controlled by the United States.”

In the wake of the concert hall attack, reports circulated that Russian President Vladimir Putin dismissed U.S. warnings of extremist attacks just days before the rampage occurred.

The U.S. Embassy in Russia issued a security alert warning on March 7 that “extremists” were planning an attack in Moscow and advised individuals to avoid large gatherings. Putin later called the alerts “provocative” and “outright blackmail,” intended to damage Russian society.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov declined to comment Wednesday on a recent report from The Washington Post that U.S. intelligence warned Russia specifically about Crocus City Hall being a terrorist target.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova also published back on the Post’s report, telling reporters, “I would really like to ask you to receive factual material on this topic from the American side. That is, when and to whom did they transmit this information,” per the AP.

The White House last week called the attempts to link Ukraine to the shooting “nonsense” and “propaganda.”

National security communications adviser John Kirby told reporters last week that “contrary” to public statements from Putin and others “who have sought to deflect blame onto Ukraine, the United States, and everyone else who suits their political narratives, it’s abundantly clear that ISIS was solely responsible for the horrific terrorist attack in Moscow last week.”

Tensions have persisted between Russia and the U.S., which has provided billions of dollars in military aid and a swath of weapons to Ukraine. Despite President Biden’s repeated push for Congress to pass more aid for the war-torn country, sharp divisions amid lawmakers have prevented any new aid legislation from passing in more than a year.

Biden in argued in February that Congress’s inability to pass funding is “close to criminal neglect.”

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