Putin attempts to link gunmen in Moscow concert hall attack to Ukraine

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Russian President Vladimir Putin tried to link the gunmen who attacked and killed at least 130 people in a Moscow concert hall to Ukraine in remarks following the deadliest attack on the capital city in a decade. 

Allegations of Ukraine’s involvement surfaced following the attack, and Putin perpetuated the claims in his speech, saying the attackers were moving towards the embattled country and a passage was prepped for them so they could cross state lines.   

“All four direct perpetrators of the terrorist attack, all those who shot and killed people, were found and detained,” Putin said in his address Saturday. “They tried to hide and were moving towards Ukraine, where, according to preliminary data, a passage was prepared for them on the Ukrainian side to cross the state border.” 

Russian authorities have detained 11 people related to the incident, including four who were directly involved in the deadliest act of terrorism in Russia’s capital city for over a decade. 

Ukraine and U.S. officials have denied any involvement in the Friday attack near Russia’s capital city, Moscow. The gunmen fired at people in the Crocus City complex right before Russian rock band Piknik was set to perform. At least 140 people were also injured. 

Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, denied the country’s involvement in the attack. 

“Ukraine certainly has nothing to do with the shooting/explosions in the Crocus City Hall (Moscow Region, Russia),” Podolyak said on Friday. “It makes no sense whatsoever.”

John Kirby, White House national security adviser, also denied the speculation of Ukraine’s involvement in one of the deadliest incidents Moscow had in the last two decades. 

“The images are just horrible. Just hard to watch, and our thoughts obviously are going to be with the victims of this terrible, terrible shooting attack,” Kirby said Friday. “No indication at this time that Ukraine or Ukrainians were involved in the shooting.”

Putin did not address the Islamic State specifically in his speech, despite the group’s claims it was responsible for the attack Friday. The Islamic State has been planning an attack in Russia, one U.S. official told The New York Times. U.S. officials also told their Russian counterparts about the possibility of an attack in the country, the outlet reported.

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