Putin's inner circle doubts Ukraine's involvement in mall attack – Bloomberg
Crocus City Hall (Photo: EPA)

While Russian dictator Vladimir Putin continues to claim that Ukraine may have been involved in the attack on the Crocus City Hall that killed 139 people, some officials disagree with him, as was reported by Bloomberg, citing four unnamed sources close to the Russian leadership.

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Putin was present at discussions where officials agreed that there was no connection to Kyiv, said one of the sources, However, the Russian dictator intends to use the terrorist attack to rally Russians against Ukraine.

The publication's sources state that Russian officials were shocked by the security services' failure to prevent the attack. Almost none of their acquaintances among Russia's political and business elite believe that Ukraine was behind the attack.

The publication noted that Putin has twice tried to link Ukraine to the attack, although the Islamic State claimed responsibility for it.

On March 23, Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) detained four suspects in the Bryansk Oblast and said that they were heading to Ukraine. Putin then stated that a "window" had been prepared for them to cross the border. However, on March 25, he admitted that the attack was carried out by radical Islamists, but told propagandists that he was "interested in who ordered it."

Bloomberg says that Putin's allies are supporting his thesis. This has led to speculation that he may use public anger over the terrorist attack to escalate the war against Ukraine, including issuing a mobilization order.

"The security services know that it was the Islamic State, but after Putin's statements, they have no choice but to follow orders and prove that Ukraine or the West was involved," said Andrei Soldatov, an expert on Russian intelligence and security services.

The publication notes that even self-proclaimed Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has denied the Russian dictator's claims that the suspects were trying to escape to Ukraine. He said that the perpetrators were initially heading to Belarus, but because border security had been strengthened, "they turned away and went toward" Ukraine instead.

Read also: Terror attack in Crocus. US sees no signs of Ukrainian involvement, rebels blame Putin