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Russia blames Ukraine, US for Moscow attack

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MOSCOW: The director of Russia’s most powerful security agency said on Tuesday that he believed Ukraine, along with the United States and Britain, were involved in the attack on a concert hall just outside Moscow that killed at least 139 people.

Ukraine, which has repeatedly denied any link with Friday’s attack, dismissed the Russian accusations as lies. Britain said they were “utter nonsense”.

“We believe that the action was prepared by both the Islamist radicals themselves and was facilitated by Western special services,” Alexander Bortnikov, director of the Federal Security Service (FSB), said on television.

“The special services of Ukraine are directly related to this,” Bortnikov said, adding Kyiv had helped prepare radicals at an unidentified location in the Middle East.

When asked by Russian reporters if Ukraine and its allies, the United States and Britain, were involved in the attack on the concert hall, Bortnikov said: “We think that’s the case. In any case, we are now talking about the texture that we have. This is general information.”

Bortnikov, 72, who has served as head of the FSB since 2008, said Russia had yet to identify those who specifically ordered the deadliest attack inside Russia for two decades, but said that retaliatory measures would be taken.

He offered no specific evidence for the claims, which hardliners in Moscow could use to justify an escalation of the war in Ukraine and to explain how Russian security services failed to prevent the attack. Senior Ukra­inian presidential aide Mykhailo Podolyak dismissed the Russian claims as lies.

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