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Comments show Putin dismissed Western warnings of Moscow attack as 'blackmail'

by Abbey Fenbert and The Kyiv Independent news desk March 23, 2024 1:00 AM 2 min read
Russian President Vladimir Putin leaves during his press conference at his campaign headquarters, early March, 18, 2024, in Moscow, Russia. (Contributor/Getty Images)
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Russian President Vladimir Putin dismissed Western warnings about possible terrorist attacks in Russia as "blackmail" days before a mass shooting at a Moscow concert venue claimed at least 60 lives and injured over 140 people, according to Russian media.

Several gunmen opened fire at the Crocus City Hall in Krasnogorsk, northwest of Moscow, on the evening of March 22, killing and injuring dozens of people.

Ahead of the attack, the U.S. Embassy in Russia issued a warning on March 7 that "extremists have imminent plans to target large gatherings in Moscow" and urged American citizens to stay away from crowded areas and venues over the next 48 hours.  The U.K., Canada, Germany, and several other countries published similar statements soon after.

Putin dismissed these warnings as a Western provocation, the Russian state-controlled news outlet TASS reported on March 19.

"All of this resembles outright blackmail and an intention to intimidate and destabilize our society," Putin reportedly said at a Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) board meeting.

The mass shooting in Moscow occurred three days later.

Images posted to social media show the gunmen walking unchallenged through the concert venue and firing indiscriminately at those inside.

The terrorist group Islamic State (IS)  claimed responsibility in a Telegram post shortly after the attack, and U.S. officials confirmed the claim, saying they had warned Russia of the potential threat.

Ukraine's military intelligence (HUR) called the shooting a "deliberate provocation by Putin's special services."

HUR claimed the attack is intended to justify "even tougher" strikes on Ukraine and total mobilization in Russia.

In a statement on March 22, Ukraine's Foreign Affairs Ministry denied Russian allegations of Ukrainian involvement in the shooting and urged the international community to reject false narratives.

"[Putin's regime] is ready to kill its own citizens for political purposes, just as it has killed thousands of Ukrainian civilians during the war against Ukraine as a result of missile strikes, artillery shelling and torture," the ministry's statement read.

Destroy, in Whole or in Part | Is Russia committing genocide in Ukraine?
Editor’s Note: The story is based on the documentary “Destroy, in Whole or in Part,” published by the Kyiv Independent’s War Crimes Investigations Unit. Since the start of the full-scale invasion, Russia has committed thousands of crimes in Ukraine. Ivan Vyhivskyi, the National Police head, said t…

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