Ukraine war latest updates: 'Radical Islamists' carried out Moscow terror attack, Putin says, but he insists Ukraine link exists


In this pool photograph distributed by the Russian state agency Sputnik, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin holds a meeting on measures taken after a massacre in the Crocus City Hall that killed more than 130 people, the deadliest attack in Europe to have been claimed by the Islamic State (IS) group, via a videoconference at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence, outside Moscow, on March 25, 2024.

Mikhail Metzel | Afp | Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin conceded on Monday that the deadly terrorist attack in Moscow last Friday was carried out by “radical Islamists” but insisted that there was a link to Ukraine, without presenting evidence.

Putin told senior Kremlin officials Monday that an investigation into the attack on the Crocus City Hall concert venue, in which 139 people died when gunmen entered the building and shot indiscriminately, “must be carried out in the most professional manner, objectively, without any political bias.

The Islamic State group said it was behind the attack on Friday and published footage of it. Four men appeared in a Moscow court on Sunday night and were charged with terrorism offenses. Three more men were charged Monday.

Putin initially suggested the attack was linked to Ukraine, claiming that the suspects had fled toward the border and that “a window had been prepared for them on the Ukrainian side to cross the border.” He did not present any evidence for the claim. Kyiv denies any involvement.

On Monday, Putin appeared to accept that the IS group was responsible for the attack but insisted that there was a link to Ukraine.

“We know that the crime was committed by radical Islamists, whose ideology the Islamic world itself has been fighting for centuries,” Putin said, according to comments translated by NBC.

“But we also see that the United States, through various channels, is trying to convince its satellites and other countries of the world that, according to their intelligence data, there is supposedly no Kyiv trace in the Moscow terrorist attack, that the bloody terrorist attack was carried out by followers of Islam, members of the ISIS organization banned in Russia.”

U.S. officials have dismissed any Ukrainian involvement in the attack, with White House spokesperson John Kirby telling reporters, “There was no linkage to Ukraine. … This is just more Kremlin propaganda.”

— Holly Ellyatt

Vasyl Maliuk, head of the Security Service of Ukraine, speaks to members of the Ukrainian Parliament on February 7, 2023.

Andrii Nesterenko | Afp | Getty Images

The head of Ukraine’ Security Service (SBU) said more “special operations” will be carried out this year as Ukraine looks to inflict more damage on Russian military hardware and infrastructure.

“The Russians should expect more blasts … We never repeat ourselves and if they change their defense system against our naval drones, we, of course, are one step ahead. Everything needs to be done in the right time, you will see how it goes,” Vasyl Maliuk said in an interview with ICTV that was reported by news agency Ukrinform.

Maliuk claimed Ukrainian security agencies have destroyed 809 Russian tanks, as well as other armored vehicles and e-warfare systems since the start of the war. He also said the security service was operating attack drones both against Russian front-line positions and within Russia itself. Ukraine has had success attacking Russia’s Black Sea Fleet around Crimea as well as its energy industry.

The SBU has attacked 13 oil refineries across different regions of Russia in a bid to deplete Russia’s energy export revenues that fund its war machine. Maliuk said Russia’s refining capabilities had been reduced by 12%; British intelligence also suggests that at least 10% of Russia’s refining capacity has been disrupted by Ukrainian attacks.

When asked whether Russian refineries will continue to burn, Maliuk replied, “Of course, they should expect more blasts.”

— Holly Ellyatt

The White House on Monday dismissed Russian claims that the shooting attack that killed 137 people in a concert hall outside Moscow was linked to Ukraine.

“There was no linkage to Ukraine. … This is just more Kremlin propaganda,” White House spokesman John Kirby told reporters in a briefing.

— Reuters

Russia’s prime minister told officials Monday that those responsible for the Crocus City Hall terrorist attack on Friday deserved to be shown “no mercy.”

Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin was addressing Communist Party lawmakers Monday, when he commented on the deadly shooting, which he described as a “monstrous terrorist act.”

“These events are now being investigated. Those responsible will be punished. They do not deserve mercy,” the prime minister said, according to news agency Interfax.

A view of damage at Crocus City Hall concert venue near Moscow, Russia after fire extinguished following a gunmen attack that claimed the lives of at least 93 people on March 23, 2024. Photo by Russian Ministry of Emergencies / Handout /Anadolu via Getty Images)

Russian Ministry of Emergencies | Anadolu | Anadolu | Getty Images

The Islamic State group said it was behind the attack on Friday, which left 137 people dead and 182 injured.

Four men suspected of carrying out the attack were charged with terrorism at a pre-trial hearing in a Moscow court on Sunday evening. Two of the suspects admitted their guilt in the attack, the court said on Telegram, according to a Google translation.

A man suspected of taking part in the attack of a concert hall that killed 137 people, the deadliest attack in Europe to have been claimed by the Islamic State jihadist group, sits inside the defendant cage as he waits for his pre-trial detention hearing at the Basmanny District Court in Moscow on March 25, 2024. 

Tatyana Makeyeva | Afp | Getty Images

U.S. journalist Evan Gershkovich, who was detained in Russia on spying charges, is escorted out of the Lefortovsky Court building in Moscow on Jan. 26, 2024.

Alexander Nemenov | Afp | Getty Images

The parents of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich have expressed optimism over the state of government-level talks over his release, as he approaches his one-year anniversary in Russian captivity.

“We have president Biden’s promise, delivered to us personally and in the State of the Union [address], and we know that the U.S. government is taking the case very seriously, so we are optimistic,” Gershkovich’s mother, Ella Milman, said during a televised ABC News interview.

Gershkovich’s father, Mikhail, added they were “happy that both governments have expressed willingness to negotiate.”

Gershkovich was apprehended by Russian authorities on March 29, 2023, while on assignment in Yekaterinburg. He has been accused, including by Russian President Vladimir Putin, on charges of espionage – which his employer, the Wall Street Journal, vehemently denies.

Putin has previously signaled the possibility of swapping Gershkovich for a Russian prisoner detained abroad, but an agreement has yet to be reached.

 — Ruxandra Iordache

Four men Russia says were involved in the deadly shootings at a concert hall on the outskirts of Moscow Friday night appeared in court late on Sunday.

Saidakrami Murodali Rachabalizoda, a suspect in the shooting attack at the Crocus City Hall concert venue, is escorted after a court hearing at the Basmanny district court in Moscow, Russia March 24, 2024. 

Shamil Zhumatov | Reuters

The men, three of whom confirmed as Tajik nationals, were charged with committing an act of terrorism when they appeared in the Basmanny district court late last night. They’re accused of carrying out an attack in the Crocus City Hall concert venue in which 137 concertgoers were killed and at least 140 were injured.

Saidakrami Murodali Rachabalizoda, a suspect in the shooting attack at the Crocus City Hall concert venue, sits behind a glass wall of an enclosure for defendants at the Basmanny district court in Moscow, Russia March 24, 2024.

Shamil Zhumatov | Reuters

The suspects, identified as Saidakrami Murodali Rachabalizoda, Dalerdzhon Barotovich Mirzoyev, Shamsidin Fariduni and Muhammadsobir Fayzov, will be detained in custody until May 22, pending trial, the court said on Telegram. The suspects may face life in prison if found guilty, the RIA Novosti news agency reported.

Dalerdzhon Mirzoyev, a suspect in the shooting attack at the Crocus City Hall concert venue, sits behind a glass wall of an enclosure for defendants at the Basmanny district court in Moscow, Russia March 24, 2024. 

Shamil Zhumatov | Reuters

One of the suspects was brought into court in a wheelchair while another had a bandage removed from his face, revealing a black eye. Another appeared dazed and disoriented, video footage of the suspects released by the court showed.

— Holly Ellyatt

Four men Russia says were involved in the deadly shootings at a concert hall on the outskirts of Moscow Friday night appeared in court late on Sunday.

Saidakrami Murodali Rachabalizoda, a suspect in the shooting attack at the Crocus City Hall concert venue, is escorted after a court hearing at the Basmanny district court in Moscow, Russia March 24, 2024. 

Shamil Zhumatov | Reuters

The men, three of whom confirmed as Tajik nationals, were charged with committing an act of terrorism when they appeared in the Basmanny district court late last night. They’re accused of carrying out an attack in the Crocus City Hall concert venue in which 137 concertgoers were killed and at least 140 were injured.

Saidakrami Murodali Rachabalizoda, a suspect in the shooting attack at the Crocus City Hall concert venue, sits behind a glass wall of an enclosure for defendants at the Basmanny district court in Moscow, Russia March 24, 2024.

Shamil Zhumatov | Reuters

The suspects, identified as Saidakrami Murodali Rachabalizoda, Dalerdzhon Barotovich Mirzoyev, Shamsidin Fariduni and Muhammadsobir Fayzov, will be detained in custody until May 22, pending trial, the court said on Telegram. The suspects may face life in prison if found guilty, the RIA Novosti news agency reported.

Dalerdzhon Mirzoyev, a suspect in the shooting attack at the Crocus City Hall concert venue, sits behind a glass wall of an enclosure for defendants at the Basmanny district court in Moscow, Russia March 24, 2024. 

Shamil Zhumatov | Reuters

One of the suspects was brought into court in a wheelchair while another had a bandage removed from his face, revealing a black eye. Another appeared dazed and disoriented, video footage of the suspects released by the court showed.

— Holly Ellyatt

In this pool photograph distributed by the Russian state agency Sputnik, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin lights a candle during his visit to a church of the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow on March 24, 2024, as Russia observes a national day of mourning after the Crocus City Hall attack.

Mikhail Metzel | Afp | Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s next move is being watched closely after he linked Ukraine to the deadly terrorist attack that took place in a Moscow concert hall Friday, leaving at least 137 people dead.

Russian officials and pro-Kremlin hawks continue to level blame at Kyiv for the attack at the Crocus City Hall venue, where gunmen killed concert-goers, including three children, and wounded at least 140.

Kyiv vehemently denies any involvement and Russian authorities are investigating the attack.

Political analysts say that whatever the outcome of that investigation, Putin is likely to use the tragedy to his advantage as he looks to boost domestic support for the war in Ukraine and to “advance its broader geopolitical objectives,” as one analyst put it.

Read more on the story here: Putin expected to use deadly Moscow attack to Russia’s advantage, whoever’s to blame





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