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Putin Still Blaming Ukraine as He Acknowledges ISIS Involvement in Friday’s Shooting Attack

A Russian police officer after Friday's attack. Reuters
A Russian police officer after Friday’s attack. Reuters

On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin admitted for the first time that Islamic State terrorists were behind last weekend's shooting and arson attack in a suburban Moscow theatre. Despite his acknowledgement, the newly re-elected leader continued to create speculation that somehow Ukraine was involved.

In a video conference with government officials, Putin confirmed to the attendees that “we know that the crime was carried out by radical Islamists,” but then suggested that “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 Kiev regime.” He further added that the Kremlin is focusing on determining who ordered the massacre.

On Friday, the Islamic State’s Amaq news agency claimed responsibility for the deadly event. The terror group has also confirmed their involvement in past incursions against Russian targets such as a 2022 suicide-bombing at their embassy in Kabul.

In a Saturday televised address, the 71-year-old autocrat accused Ukraine of harboring the alleged gunmen and proving them with an escape “window” to cross into the embattled country while being pursued by the police. These allegations were contradicted by U.S. and French intelligence agencies who had in the previous two weeks warned of possible Islamist terrorism in the area.

Russian state media has only offered the location of the suspects arrest, the Bryansk region along the Ukrainian border, as evidence of non-ISIS involvement.

The government in Kiev has strongly denied any knowledge or participation in the matter.

There is long-standing animosity between ISIS and Russia, mainly due to Moscow’s support of Bashir Assad during the Syrian Civil War. Anti-Putin rhetoric is regularly displayed on ISIS propaganda materials.

Related Story: Vladimir Putin Accuses Moscow Concert Gunmen of Having Ties to Kiev, Ukraine Denies Allegation

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