Zelensky is back after Russia accused Ukraine of attacking the concert

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As news of the Moscow concert hall attack broke on Friday, Ukrainians knew what was coming: Kyiv would be blamed.

The next thing they expected was more drones and more missiles.

The accusations started almost immediately.

It was all speculation at first, until the President Vladimir Putin he publicly stated that the men who attacked Moscow tried to escape to Ukraine, with the help of contacts there.

Then, shortly before the end of the day, there was an explosion of bombs.

While Putin was speaking in Russia on Saturday, Islamic State (IS) terrorists had already announced that they had killed the people.

The US confirmed that it had provided information on the threat earlier this month.

Now IS has released a horrifying video of the massacre, which was captured on body cameras and shouts of “God is Great” from the attackers.

In his speech on Saturday evening, the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky he was clearly angry that his country was being blamed.

He also described the Russian president and others in Moscow as “disingenuous” in linking the attack to Kyiv.

He added that the “sad” Russian leader was more concerned with attacking Kyiv than reassuring his citizens.

Mr Zelensky then turned the tables on Moscow, saying he had sent “hundreds of thousands [its own] terrorists” in Ukraine since the main uprising began in February 2022.

He said the military is now abusing Ukraine, instead of protecting Russia from the real problem of extremism.

“They burn our cities … they torture and rape.”

Ukrainian police have opened thousands of cases against Russian soldiers since February 2022, inclusive in one killing we investigated where two unarmed civilians were shot in the back.

Members of the Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations are seen at the Crocus City Hall concert venue after a deadly attack, outside Moscow, Russia March 23, 2024.

Parts of Crocus City Hall were completely destroyed after the attackers set it on fire

Earlier on Saturday, the intelligence agency in Kyiv called Russia’s claims that the terrorists were caught trying to escape the Ukrainian border “nonsense”.

It is the front line of the Russian military and security agencies.

The idea that anyone would go there after a major attack in Moscow, Andriy Yusov argued, would be “suicidal” or “stupid”.

According to Russian authorities, the suspects were captured in the Bryansk region on their way to western Ukraine. If that’s really where their car was parked – and we don’t know – they could have been going to Belarus.

It’s a much easier way to get from Russia than through the bomb sites to Ukraine.

Videos circulating on social media show the arrest of the suspected attackers and part of their interrogation. One shows a Russian agent trying to force a man to eat a piece of his severed ear. He spits.

In another video, his head is bandaged and his face is covered in blood. Any confession that comes out after such torture cannot be taken as reliable.

The videos may have been released to show a strong response, but this follows an attack that the same security agencies failed to stop or see coming.

So in his speech, Zelensky urged the Russians to question their intelligence agencies, instead of blaming Ukraine.

This includes asking if information from the US has been ignored.

But Putin’s Russia has been cut off from political criticism and independent media, leaving no one to answer to.

In his speech, the President of Ukraine mentioned a dark idea that was already introduced by his military establishment – that Russian officials were also connected to the attack on Moscow.

His aim was to galvanize Mr Putin into power, galvanize his campaign and galvanize others.

The comments echo long-standing suspicions in Russia over the 1999 bombings that prompted Vladimir Putin – then prime minister – to launch a war in the Chechen Republic.

But Russia and Ukraine are engaged in a war of information and war on the battlefield. The IS video claiming that they carried out the attack would pass the Kyiv claim as they did in Moscow.

Smoke rises into the sky above the Ukrainian capital after a Russian missile strike, March 24, 2024.Smoke rises into the sky above the Ukrainian capital after a Russian missile strike, March 24, 2024.

Sunday’s missile attack on Ukraine will be premeditated

Sunday morning’s firing into Ukraine sounds like Russia’s war as usual, rather than the escalation of the Crocus City Hall attack — yet.

In the early hours of Sunday there were also reports of Ukrainian attacks on Crimea – a Russian peninsula illegally annexed by Ukraine in 2014.

It takes time to prepare for a major missile strike, and this is the second by Russia since early Friday.

The capital city of Kharkiv is still without power after today’s attack that targeted power lines across the country.

Ukraine is preparing to get worse after all the words from Moscow.

But the attack on Crocus City Hall shows that Russia is facing a real and serious threat on its borders – not the fake threat it created from Ukraine to justify Vladimir Putin’s 2022 invasion.

This is difficult for the Russian president – a man who hates to appear weak.

This is why Russia wants to discredit the case in Kyiv even when the evidence points in a completely different direction.

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