The Russian authorities said Saturday that they had arrested the four people who carried out a mass killing and arson at a suburban Moscow concert venue, which left at least 133 people dead in one of the worst terrorist attacks to jolt Russia in decades. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the brutal attack late Friday, raising fears of a global resurgence by the extremist group. U.S. officials said they believed the atrocity was the work of a branch of the terrorist group known as the Islamic State in Khorasan, or ISIS-K, which has been active in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran. ISIS-K previously attacked Russia’s embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, and has produced floods of anti-Kremlin propaganda. But President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, who gave his first public remarks on the tragedy more than 19 hours after the attack, made no mention of ISIS. He instead accused individuals in Ukraine of preparing a border crossing for the four attackers, who the authorities said were all foreign citizens and had been apprehended in Russia’s Bryansk region, which borders Ukraine. Kyiv has denied any involvement in the attack, saying that suggestions to the contrary were an attempt to rally support for the Kremlin’s war in Ukraine - NYT

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The White House on Saturday issued a new statement reiterating the Islamic State’s responsibility for Friday’s attack, reacting to Russian comments blaming Ukraine. “ISIS bears sole responsibility for this attack,” said Adrienne Watson, a National Security Council spokeswoman. “There was no Ukrainian involvement whatsoever.” The new statement represented the latest intelligence assessment by the United States, and it signaled American intelligence agencies are confident that Ukraine had nothing to do with the attack - NYT

Russian Man Sentenced to 10 Years for Planning to Fight for Kyiv
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Russian Man Sentenced to 10 Years for Planning to Fight for Kyiv

Russia imprisons a citizen for wanting to join Ukrainian armed forces.

Critical infrastructure in several regions of Ukraine were targeted by Russia overnight. Port infrastructure in the Odesa region was reportedly damaged and critical infrastructure in Lviv, Kryvyi Rih & elsewhere. In total, the authorities said Russia launched 29 cruise missile and 28 drones most of which intercepted. On Sunday morning a second missile was launched towards Lviv. Polish authorities said a Russian rocket transited through their airspace for almost 40 seconds last night

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Ukraine says it has hit two landing ships, a communications centre and other infrastructure used by Russia's Black Sea fleet off annexed Crimea. An announcement by the Ukrainian general staff said the Yamal and Azov ships had been destroyed. The Russian-installed governor of the port of Sevastopol said 10 Ukrainian missiles had been shot down. - BBC

The Biden administration is concerned Israel is making a "major strategic error" by denying "major, possibly generational damage" to Israel's reputation worldwide over its war in Gaza, according to a State Department memo obtained by NPR. Assistant Secretary of State Bill Russo, overseeing global public affairs in the State Department, told Israeli foreign ministry officials in a call on March 13 that both the U.S. and Israel face a "major credibility problem" as a result of the "unpopular" Israeli military offensive in Gaza, according to a U.S. readout of the conversation. "The Israelis seemed oblivious to the fact that they are facing major, possibly generational damage to their reputation not just in the region but elsewhere in the world," the memo says. "We are concerned that the Israelis are missing the forest for the trees and are making a major strategic error in writing off their reputation damage." The State Department memo recommended pressing Israeli officials on the matter "at the highest levels." - NPR

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One-quarter of the 5,012 criminal cases that were brought by Belarusian authorities in 2023 under a handful of articles to suppress political speech and activities concerned alleged insults against longtime leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka, according to an analysis of police data. Lukashenka has cracked down on dissent since claiming a sixth presidential term after a 2020 election marred by exclusions and allegations of widespread fraud. The criminal articles punish those deemed to have insulted officials or the president and to have disturbed public order. Two dozen Nobel Prize laureates recently urged the release of hundreds of political prisoners in Belarus, including 2022 Nobel Peace Prize winner Ales Byalyatski - RFE/RL

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