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Zelensky on Moscow shooting: Putin's attempts to link it to Ukraine 'absolutely predictable'

by Martin Fornusek and The Kyiv Independent news desk March 23, 2024 10:09 PM 3 min read
President Volodymyr Zelensky in his office. (Ukraine's Presidential Office)
This audio is created with AI assistance

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President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed on March 23 a deadly shooting in a concert hall near Moscow, dismissing the Kremlin's attempts to link it to Ukraine.

Several gunmen opened fire at the Crocus City Hall in Krasnogorsk, northwest of Moscow, on the evening of March 22, killing 133 people and injuring at least 140, according to the latest updates by the Russian authorities.

While the Islamic State terrorist group claimed responsibility for the attack, Russian officials are attempting to connect it to Kyiv without providing any evidence. Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed that the detained suspects planned to flee to Ukraine, where a "window" was supposedly prepared for them.

"Putin and his thugs are just trying to blame somebody else... It has happened before. There have been blown-up houses, shootings, explosions, and they always blame others," Zelensky said in his address.

In 1999, shortly before Vladimir Putin became president, a series of apartment bombings, including on the Kashirskoye highway in Moscow, rocked Russia, which were blamed on Chechen separatists, lighting the fuse for the second Chechen war.

Since then, speculation has continued that Putin and the Federal Security Service (FSB) orchestrated the bombings to boost his popularity and legitimize the war.

"They (Russia) came to Ukraine, they are burning our cities – and they are trying to blame Ukraine," Zelensky said only a day after Russia launched its largest attack on Ukraine's energy infrastructure, killing five civilians and injuring dozens.

"They sent hundreds of thousands of terrorists here, on Ukrainian soil, they are fighting against us and don't care what happens in their country."

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Zelensky noted that Putin initially stayed silent regarding the shooting, waiting a whole day to find a way "to connect it to Ukraine."

"It was all absolutely predictable."

The president commented that "the hundreds of thousands of Russians who are currently being killed on Ukrainian soil would certainly be enough to stop any terrorists."

"If Russians are ready to die silently in 'crocuses' and not ask any questions of their security services, then Putin will try to use more cases like this to strengthen his personal power."

According to the Kremlin, a total of 11 people involved in the shooting have been detained, four of whom were called "the perpetrators." When addressing the shooting, Putin did not mention the fact that the Islamic State claimed responsibility, nor warnings of Western countries about a possible terrorist attack in Moscow.

Kyiv has previously dismissed the allegations of its involvement in the mass shooting. The White House said there was no indication that Ukraine was behind the Moscow attack.

Ukraine's military intelligence (HUR) called the shooting a "deliberate provocation by Putin's special services." HUR claimed the attack was intended to justify "even tougher" strikes on Ukraine and total mobilization in Russia.

Putin seeking to blame Ukraine for Moscow shooting, despite ISIS taking responsibility
Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed that the detained suspected perpetrators of the Moscow shooting allegedly planned to flee to Ukraine without providing any evidence. In his address, the Russian president did not mention the fact that the terrorist group Islamic State (ISIS) claimed responsib…

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