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Ukraine Says Russian Speculation It Was Behind Attack Is Meant to Rally War Support

Ukraine has accused Russia of falsely suggesting that Kyiv was to blame for Friday night’s terrorist attack in Moscow and of using the deadly episode to rally support for the Kremlin’s war in Ukraine and escalate the fighting there.

Ukraine’s foreign ministry said in a statement that Russian officials were making such accusations “with the goals of stirring up anti-Ukrainian hysteria in Russian society and creating conditions to boost mobilization of Russian citizens into the criminal aggression against our state.”

Russia’s speculations, the foreign ministry said, were an attempt at “discrediting Ukraine in the eyes of the international community.”

Russia is now on the offensive along the entire front line in Ukraine, but its advances have come at a creeping pace and at tremendous cost in dead and wounded soldiers. Military analysts have said that any more significant breakthrough would require a large mobilization of fresh troops.

The Ukrainian ministry issued its statement after Dmitri Medvedev, a former Russian president who is now the deputy secretary of Russia’s national security council, floated the possibility late Friday that Ukraine had been involved in the attack on the concert hall in a Moscow suburb.

The ministry said that Kyiv “categorically denies” any involvement, and an adviser to Ukraine’s president also denied any role by the country.

The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack through an affiliated news agency on Friday, and the United States said it believed that a branch of the Islamic State that has been active in Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan was to blame.

Mr. Medvedev vowed that Russia would retaliate against those behind the attack. “If it’s determined these are terrorists of the Kyiv regime, it will be impossible to treat them and those who inspire them any differently,” he said, adding that those responsible for the violence would “be found and mercilessly destroyed, like terrorists. This includes official figures of the state committing such an evil act.”

Russia has in the past used violence at home as pivot points in its wars, Ukrainian officials pointed out after Friday’s attack.

The Ukrainian foreign ministry, in its statement, pointed to explosions in apartment buildings in Russia in 1999 that set off the second of the two post-Soviet wars in Chechnya. A Russian security service defector later blamed his agency for orchestrating the attacks to galvanize public support for renewed military action in Chechnya, something that Moscow vehemently denies.

Ukraine’s military intelligence agency and the presidential adviser, Mykhailo Podolyak, also referred in their statements to the apartment bombings as examples of the risk of Russia’s blaming Ukraine for the concert attack.

In the days before Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022, Russian officials accused Kyiv of blowing up the car of a leader of one of the Kremlin’s client states in eastern Ukraine, and of firing artillery at a chemical plant. Ukraine denied being involved in either of those episodes.

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