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20 Apr, 2024 14:00

G7 denies Kiev involvement in Moscow terror attack

Russian investigators have found a link between Ukrainian nationalists and last month’s massacre that killed over 140
G7 denies Kiev involvement in Moscow terror attack

Ukraine’s backers in the Group of Seven (G7) have denied that the country was involved in last month’s deadly terrorist attack in Moscow Region, according to a joint statement by the group’s foreign ministers issued on Friday. Russian authorities have claimed they found a money trail linking the perpetrators of the massacre to Ukrainian nationalists.

“We firmly reject the Russian authorities’ baseless attempts to blame Ukraine for the tragic terrorist attack near Moscow on March 22, which was claimed by ISIS. We call on Russia to stop using this tragedy in its disinformation efforts against Ukraine,” the ministers said in a joint communique issued after their meeting on the Italian island of Capri.

Four gunmen stormed the Crocus City Hall concert venue just outside Moscow on March 22, shooting everyone in sight before setting the building on fire. The tragedy resulted in more than 140 deaths. The suspects, all Tajik nationals, were detained several hours after the attack near the Ukrainian border. ISIS-K, an Afghanistan-based offshoot of the international terrorist organization Islamic State, claimed responsibility.

However, the head of Russia’s FSB security agency, Aleksandr Bortnikov, later suggested that the Ukrainian security services may have been involved in preparing the assault, possibly using the Islamists as proxies.

European Commission spokesman Peter Stano said the EU rejected the suggestion that Kiev had anything to do with the terror plot, accusing Moscow of using the attack “as a pretext to increase the illegal aggression against Ukraine.” Kiev, which initially claimed that Moscow itself had staged the massacre, has also staunchly denied any involvement.

This week, the secretary of the Russian Security Council, Nikolay Patrushev, said Russian investigators had confirmed a link between the perpetrators of the terror plot and Ukrainian nationalists.

Earlier in April, Russia’s Investigative Committee said it had obtained information that could indicate the suspects’ “connection with the Ukrainian special services.” Previously, the investigators claimed to have “confirmed data” that the alleged gunmen received “significant sums of money and cryptocurrency” from Ukraine prior to the attack.

In the records of interrogations of the suspected gunmen released by FSB, the perpetrators claimed they had specific instructions to flee towards the Ukrainian border.

Earlier this month, Russian UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said that persistent Western attempts to shield Kiev from accusations seemed suspicious.

“Amid such relentless attempts to pin the blame on ISIS and shield Kiev at any cost… a question about Western security services’ involvement in orchestrating this terrorist attack remains open,” the diplomat said at a UN Security Council meeting on April 12, adding that the evidence of Ukraine’s involvement in the attack was “irrefutable.” In his statement, Nebenzia urged the West to “cooperate” with Moscow in capturing and bringing to justice those who ordered the massacre.