Updated March 24th, 2024 at 09:49 IST

Putin Links Moscow Terror Attack Assailants to Ukraine, Zelenskyy and White House Deny Allegations

In his first remarks after the devastating terror attack in Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin blamed Ukraine for the incident.

Reported by: Bhagyasree Sengupta
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy | Image:AP
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Moscow – In his first remarks after the devastating terror attack in Moscow that killed at least 133 people on Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin blamed Ukraine for the incident. Despite ISIS-K claiming responsibility for the attack, the Russian leader maintained that Ukraine was providing the terrorists a “window” to escape. In his first address, 19 hours after the attack, the Russian president pledged to punish the perpetrators, “whoever they may be, whoever may have sent them," The New York Times reported. In response to Putin's comments, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused Putin of “shifting the blame” onto Kyiv, which is currently embroiled in a war against Russia.

In his five-minute-long televised speech, the Russian president noted that someone in Ukraine had tried to help the attackers escape the border from Russia before they were apprehended by the Russian security service. “They were trying to hide and were moving toward Ukraine,” Putin said referring to four men who were eventually arrested by the FSB. “Based on preliminary information, a window for crossing the border was prepared for them by the Ukrainian side," he added. From the very beginning, Ukrainian officials have vehemently denied having anything to do with the Friday attack.  

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During his speech, the Russian president also blamed the West for stoking terrorist groups to commit violence inside Russia. However, he did not make any explicit mention of the United States. Nor did he refer to the March 7 Security alert which was issued by the US embassy in Moscow. “We are counting here on cooperation with all countries that genuinely share our pain and are ready, in their deeds, to truly unite our efforts in the fight against the common enemy of international terrorism,” Putin averred. 

Ukraine accuses Putin of ‘shifting blame’ onto Kyiv 

Shortly after Putin's speech, Zelenskyy slammed the Russian leader for blaming Ukraine for the devastating attack. "What happened yesterday in Moscow is obvious: Putin and the other scum are just trying to blame it on someone else," the Ukrainian leader averred. "They always have the same methods," he remarked. Zelenskyy went on to call out the Russian president's delayed response on the matter. "Putin, instead of dealing with his Russian citizens, addressing them, was silent for a day, thinking about how to bring it to Ukraine. Everything is absolutely predictable,” he said alluding to the fact that the ISIS-K has already claimed responsibility for the attack. Ukraine's Foreign Ministry also echoed similar sentiments. "We consider such accusations to be a planned provocation by the Kremlin to further fuel anti-Ukrainian hysteria in Russian society, create conditions for increased mobilization of Russian citizens to participate in the criminal aggression against our country and discredit Ukraine in the eyes of the international community," the ministry said in a statment. 

US defends Ukraine

Meanwhile, Washington also maintained that Ukraine had no role to play in the Friday attack. "In early March, the US government shared information with Russia about a planned terrorist attack in Moscow," National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said in a statement which was obtained by CBS News. “We also issued a public advisory to Americans in Russia on March 7. ISIS bears sole responsibility for this attack. There was no Ukrainian involvement whatsoever,” the American official furthered. 

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Published March 24th, 2024 at 09:49 IST