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Ukraine intel: Russia seeks to tarnish Ukraine’s image in Global South with Crocus attack allegations

Ukrainian military intelligence suggests Russia aims to use accusations against Ukraine related to a recent ISIS-K attack in the Moscow region to undermine Kyiv’s reputation internationally, particularly in the Global South.
Crocus City Hall
Aftermath of the attack in Crocus City Hall near Moscow, Russia, 22 March 2024.
Ukraine intel: Russia seeks to tarnish Ukraine’s image in Global South with Crocus attack allegations

According to Andrii Yusov, a representative of Ukrainian military intelligence, Russia may leverage allegations against Ukraine related to the Crocus City Hall attack to undermine Kyiv’s reputation internationally, particularly in the Global South. He said it in his remarks to NV.

On the evening of 22 March, a shooting incident occurred at Crocus City Hall in Moscow, resulting in 144 deaths, with subsequent developments including ISIS claiming responsibility, various allegations regarding Ukraine’s involvement, and conflicting statements about the attackers’ intended destination.

Yusov emphasized that any new accusations against Kyiv are primarily for public consumption, both domestic and foreign, as Russia is already waging a comprehensive war against Ukraine. He highlighted that the Kremlin aims to use the mass slaughter at Crocus City Hall in Moscow carried out by ISIS-K to its advantage, but such accusations serve as a publicity stunt since Russia is already employing all possible means against Ukraine, except for weapons of mass destruction.

Following an official statement by the Russian Foreign Ministry claiming Ukraine allegedly was involved in the Crocus City Hall attack, Yusov remarked that these accusations are part of Russia’s attempts to portray itself as a victim to reboot its image as an aggressor country. 

“[I]t is the Putin regime that remains the main source of terrorist threats, including in the world, and daily carries out terrorist attacks against our state and our civilian population,” he said.

Therefore, Russia continues to implement large-scale projects and information-psychological operations to discredit Ukraine and its military-political leadership on the international stage, Yusov stated.

He added that Moscow may use these false accusations, particularly in countries of the Global South, as arguments to strengthen the positions of Putin’s regime’s agents of influence worldwide.

Unfortunately, there is no limit to the cynicism of Putin’s Russia, and there is nothing new in these accusations,” Yusov stated.

Regarding Russian propagandists’ claims about alleged implanted chips in the brains of Crocus attackers, the intelligence representative noted these statements resemble Russia’s conspiracy theories, like Ukraine’s lab-produced combat mosquitoes, that Russian propaganda produces for its own population. He added that the “zombified” Russian society continues to believe in such claims.

Crocus attack timeline

  • 22 March 2024: Shooting began in Crocus City Hall, a concert venue near Moscow, Russia.
  • Russian law enforcement reported the detention of 11 individuals, four of whom were allegedly involved in the shooting, identified as Tajik nationals Dalerdzhan Mirzoyev, Saidakrami Rachababalizoda, Muhammadzobir Fayzov, and Faridun Shamsiddini. The FSB announced their supposed intention to cross into Ukraine.
  • The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry rejected the Kremlin’s accusations of Ukraine’s alleged involvement in the terrorist act in Russia.
  • 23 March: Ukraine’s Center for Countering Disinformation suggested that the terrorist act in Russia could be an operation by Russian special services to accuse Ukraine and justify a new wave of mobilization in Russia.
  • 23 March: The Islamic State terrorist group claimed responsibility for the shooting, releasing photos of the suspects previously detained by the FSB. Later, ISIS published a video filmed by the terrorists in Crocus City Hall.
  • 24 March: The US National Security Council rejected Russia’s attempts to link Ukraine to the Crocus City Hall terrorist attack.
  • 25 March: State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller stated there is no evidence linking Ukraine to the Crocus City Hall shooting.
  • 26 March: Belarusian dictator Aliaksandr Lukashenka claimed the shooters initially headed towards the Belarusian border, contradicting Kremlin propaganda that they intended to go to Ukraine.
  • 26 March: Bloomberg reported that Putin’s inner circle does not believe Ukraine is responsible for the shooting, despite Putin continuing to accuse Kyiv.
  • 29 March: Russian media discovered that the Tajik wing of ISIS transferred payments to the shooters at Crocus via a cryptocurrency wallet.
  • 31 March: The Russian Foreign Ministry officially accused Ukraine of involvement in the “terrorist attacks” in Russia, including the Crocus City Hall shooting, and called to arrest Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU) Head Vasyl Maliuk, which the SBU called “cynical,” adding, “Trying to appeal to international law norms, especially the Convention on Combating Terrorism, the Russian Foreign Ministry forgets that Putin is officially wanted internationally, with the Hague Tribunal awaiting him for the abduction of Ukrainian children.”

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