Russia doubles down on claims Ukraine was behind Moscow attack, slams U.S. for blaming ISIS

Russia doubles down on claims Ukraine was behind Moscow attack, slams U.S. for blaming ISIS

In an interview with Russian state-run media, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova insisted that the Ukrainian government or its Western allies were somehow behind the terrorist attack that took place last week at a concert in Crocus City Hall near Moscow.

During the attack, gunmen entered the venue and opened fire before setting it ablaze. At least 140 people have died so far, and hundreds more are injured and missing. An affiliate of ISIS took responsibility in the aftermath of the attack, with social media channels linked to the terrorist group posting graphic videos of the mass killing.

However, many in Russia remain convinced that there is a connection to Ukraine. Even if ISIS militants were involved, they believe that they may have been used as proxies by Ukrainian or Western intelligence agencies or governments.

Earlier this week, Alexander Bortnikov, director of the Russian security agency the Federal Security Service or FSB, said the assailants were planning to escape to Ukraine, where they would have been “greeted as heroes.”

He said: “We believe the action was prepared both by the radical Islamists themselves and, of course, facilitated by Western special services, and Ukraine’s special services themselves have a direct connection to this.”

Zakharova said she found it odd that the Western media latched onto ISIS’s claim of responsibility so quickly and said the American government backed itself “into a corner” by doing so.

She said: “The very fact that within the first 24 hours [after the attack], even before the fire was put out, the Americans started screaming that it wasn’t Ukraine, I think, is a piece of incriminating evidence. I can’t classify it otherwise; it is evidence in and of itself.”

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Zakharova also took issue with how quickly the United States concluded ISIS’s claims were valid.

“Of course, the speed with which they were able to [come to such forthright conclusions] is astonishing. It took them only a few hours to get to a microphone, turn on the lights, summon the press and draw a conclusion about who is to blame for this horribly bloody terrorist attack,” she added.

Russia says it found financial ties between attackers and Ukraine

The Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation later announced that it received “verifiable information that the perpetrators of the terrorist attack received significant amounts of money and cryptocurrency, which were used in preparing the crime, from Ukraine.”

They added that an investigation of the electronic devices belonging to the detained terrorists revealed a connection to Ukrainian nationalists.

Russian authorities said they already have a suspected “financier” of the attack in custody and that Ukraine paid the perpetrators “large amounts” of money. So far, 11 people have been arrested in connection with the attack.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, an ally of President Vladimir Putin, appeared to contradict some of the Russian claims, however, saying that the attackers were originally planning to enter Belarus instead of Ukraine but diverted after encountering checkpoints at the Belarusian border. It was only then that they decided to head to Ukraine, he claimed.

Ukraine denies involvement in the attack

Ukraine has adamantly denied any involvement in the attack. French President Emmanuel Macron said French intelligence had information that jihadists were behind the attack and warned Russia not to use it as a way to blame Ukraine and stir up anti-Ukrainian sentiment.

Earlier this month, the U.S. publicly warned Russia that intelligence indicated “extremists” were planning an attack in Moscow soon, and they provided a written warning to the country’s security services.

White House National Security Spokesman John Kirby called Russia’s allegations “nonsense and propaganda” and insisted that the responsibility for the attack lies solely with the Islamic State.

Sources for this article include:

ZeroHedge.com

TheMoscowTimes.com

TheGuardian.com

Reuters.com

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