UPDATED | Putin suggests Ukraine provided escape route to Moscow concert shooters, Kyiv denies claim

Russian president says attackers were detained while heading for Ukraine, despite ISIS-K, a branch of the Islamic State group claiming responsibility for last night's attack at the Crocus City Hall in which at least 115 civilians were killed

A man observes the aftermath of the shooting (Source: @BalochSami on X)
A man observes the aftermath of the shooting (Source: @BalochSami on X)

Russian president Vladimir Putin has denounced yesterday’s attack on a concert hall as a “barbaric terrorist act,” during a televised address in which he told the Russian people that "according to preliminary data, a window was prepared for them [the attackers] on the Ukrainian side to cross the state border." 

At least 133 people were killed and more than 140 injured in Moscow as a result of a mass shooting at a rock concert last night, which has been described as the deadliest terrorist attack in Russia for the past 20 years. Video footage posted online shows attackers firing assault rifles at panicked concert-goers  indiscriminately and at close range, as explosions are heard off-camera. The shootings at Crocus City Hall were followed by a large fire which caused part of the premises’ roof to collapse.

Who actually ordered the massacre remains to be seen, as contradictory narratives compete with one another online in the absence of certainty.

A branch of the Islamic State terror group, ISIS-K, claimed responsibility for the attack soon after it happened, but the Russian government has not yet commented on the group’s claim. In the past, the terrorist organisation has claimed to be responsible for attacks in which it had not orchestrated.

On Saturday afternoon, Islamic State's Amaq news agency issued a detailed report on the Moscow attacks, together with a picture of what it says is the four terrorists who carried out attacks, taken before the plan was put into motion, wearing similar clothes to those the arrested suspects are seen wearing. The agency said that three of the attackers had been focused on indiscrimintely killing people in the crowd with guns and knives, while the fourth set fire to the hall with incendiary devices.

Last week, Putin had publicly rejected US warnings about possible terrorist attacks in Russia as  "provocative statements," resembling "outright blackmail and an intention to intimidate and destabilise our society." The US had even identified ISIS-K as planning to attack Russia.
In an address to the nation, also on Saturday afternoon, Putin announced that all four of the attackers had been found and detained south-west of Moscow, heading towards the Russia-Ukraine border. But despite ISIS-K having claimed responsibility for the attack, in his speech, Putin pivoted towards Ukraine, insisting that it had been preparing to receive the men.  “Our enemies will not divide us,” Putin said.

So far, Putin has provided no evidence to back up his claims of Ukrainian involvement in the massacre- a narrative that would provide him with a convenient pretext for the adoption of stronger measures against growing opposition to the invasion amongst Russians. 

On its part, the government of Ukraine, which is currently at war with Russia and is fighting off an invasion by its larger neighbour, has strenuously denied any involvement in the attack, calling Putin's claims "absolutely untenable and absurd."