The attack in Moscow casts a shadow over the war in Ukraine and Russia's relations with the West

The attack in Moscow casts a shadow over the war in Ukraine and Russia's relations with the West

WashingtonPeople run as fast as they can between the red seats at the Crocus City Hall concert hall on the outskirts of Moscow. A few seconds later, powerful, relentless shots are heard, their sound ringing through the air as if a machine were bouncing. People scream, sit down and hide as much as they can behind the seats. The video ends. There are other images even worse, in which a terrorist is shown cutting the throat of a wounded man on the ground with a knife, a video released by the Islamic State on Sunday to confirm the identity of this brutality. So far, the death toll from the worst attack Russia has seen in years has reached 137 people, including at least three children, and 180 wounded.

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In Russia, Sunday was a day of national mourning in memory of the victims and to condemn the events. Despite the rain, since the early hours of the morning, a flood of people has been bringing flowers to the site of the attack, in a spontaneous memorial formed next to the concert hall building. Russian security forces have so far arrested eleven people in connection with the attack, four of whom were personally involved. Beyond the tragedy and anxiety of seeing ISIS able to recover, the statements made by Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday night hang like a dark cloud over the West. Especially with regard to Ukraine. The Russian President linked Kyiv to the attack.

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On Sunday morning, many Ukrainians were forced to take refuge in the Kiev subway in the face of the intensity of Russian attacks. In the capital alone, Ukrainian forces shot down 18 missiles and 25 drones. In the Lviv region in the east of the country, dozens more targeted infrastructure. One of these missiles entered the airspace of Poland, a member of NATO. Therefore, an attack on its territory would generate a reaction from the rest of NATO countries. The missile remained in Polish airspace for 39 seconds and the country put its air force on alert.

On Sunday, Deputy Chairman of the Russian Security Council, Dmitry Medvedev, wrote to: Your channel on Telegram: “We will avenge everyone. Those involved, regardless of their country of origin or status, will henceforth be our legitimate and primary target.” Then he added: “Wait, you wretches.”

This more aggressive tone has alerted European leaders. French European Affairs Minister Jean-Noel Barrot warned Moscow that it must not use the attack for its own interests: “This hateful and barbaric act must be made clear, and must not be used as a tool.” When asked by French television BFMTV whether he believed that Putin was actually using the massacre to justify more aggressive policies, the French minister replied that they had been witnessing for weeks and months “a hardening of Vladimir Putin’s position.” In this sense, he also used it to recall President Emmanuel Macron's call to engage more in support of Ukraine and highlight the importance of Europe following the line of rearmament.

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Washington had already warned

The fact is that the United States warned Russia at the beginning of the month that there was a risk of an attack in Moscow, specifically from EI-K, the Islamic State branch based in Afghanistan. in Statement published on March 7 “Extremists have imminent plans to attack large gatherings in Moscow, including concerts,” she announced on the embassy’s page, recommending avoiding crowds, following media updates and being aware of your surroundings. The public warning was not the only warning Russia received. White House Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson confirmed that the US government had also notified the Russian authorities of the risk of an attack. The United States remains without the slightest doubt that the massacre was committed by ISIS.

Despite hostilities with Russia since the outbreak of the Ukrainian war, the United States maintains a “duty to warn” policy whenever it perceives a potential threat of attack. We have previously seen this with Iran, when it warned them of the possibility of an attack on the Kerman cemetery during the memorial service for General Qassem Soleimani. However, due to the existing mistrust between the two powers, Russia viewed the Americans' diplomatic warnings as a provocation. “All of this looks like blackmail and an attempt to intimidate and destabilize our society,” Putin said during his annual speech to Russian spies, according to reports. The Economist. In fact, the Russian President did not mention this warning during his appearance on Saturday either.

The attack on the concert hall also raises doubts about Putin's character as a guarantor of stability and security in the country. After narrowly winning last weekend's elections, in which the occupied territories of Ukraine were forced to vote house-to-house, Putin now finds himself in a position where he must explain what went wrong. Internally, there are also fears that the massacre could serve as a pretext to justify stricter control policies within the borders or the imposition of forced conscription.

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