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Russian FSB says US, UK and Ukraine behind Moscow attack

Russian FSB says US, UK and Ukraine behind Moscow attack

Russian officials persisted in saying Ukraine and the West had a role in last week's deadly Moscow concert hall attack despite vehement denials of involvement by Kyiv and a claim of responsibility by an affiliate of the Islamic State group.

Without offering any evidence, Alexander Bortnikov, head of the Federal Security Service, or FSB, followed similar allegations by President Vladimir Putin, linked the attack to Ukraine even as he acknowledged that the suspects arrested were “radical Islamists.”

The IS affiliate claimed it carried out the attack, and US intelligence said it had information confirming the group was responsible. French President Emmanuel Macron said France also has intelligence pointing to “an IS entity” as responsible for the attack.

But despite the signs pointing to IS, Putin insisted on alleged Ukrainian involvement — something that President Volodymyr Zelenskyy rejected, accusing the Kremlin leader of trying to drum up fervor as his forces fight in Ukraine.

An Orthodox priest conducts a service at a makeshift memorial in front of the Crocus City Hall on the western outskirts of Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, March 26, 2024.
An Orthodox priest conducts a service at a makeshift memorial in front of the Crocus City Hall on the western outskirts of Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, March 26, 2024. - Associated Press

Bortnikov alleged that Western spy agencies also could have been involved in the deadliest terror attack on Russian soil in two decades, even as he acknowledged receiving a US tip about the attack.

“We believe that radical Islamists prepared the action, while Western special services have assisted it and Ukrainian special services had a direct part in it,” Bortnikov said without giving details.

He repeated Putin's claim that the four gunmen were trying to escape to Ukraine when they were arrested, casting it as a proof of alleged involvement by Kyiv.

But that assertion was undercut slightly by Belarus' authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko, who said on Tuesday the suspects were headed for Ukraine because they feared tight controls on the Belarus border.

Russia is still reeling from the attack Friday in which gunmen killed 139 people in the Crocus City Hall, a concert venue on the outskirts of Moscow. Health officials said about 90 people remain hospitalised, with 22 of them, including two children, in grave condition.