Russian special services were aware of the impending terrorist attack at the Crocus City Hall concert hall well in advance, Kyrylo Budanov, head of Ukraine's Military Intelligence (HUR), said Wednesday, March 27, speaking at the Third International Forum on Strategic Communications.

"At least on Feb. 15, 2024, Russia knew about the preparations. I'll tell you more. This information was obtained through the group's intelligence directorate in Syria," Budanov said.

"And don't let them tell fairy tales that strangely everything materialized out of nowhere," he added.

Ukraine's military intel chief said that the Kremlin was aware of the routes through which the militants intended to enter Russia, raising questions as to why preventative measures were not taken.

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"Why they allowed this to happen — there are several options. The first is… the struggle to remove several high-ranking officials now," Budanov said.

"The other option is that they actually underestimated the scale of what would happen. They thought it would be more local and wanted to blame Ukraine for everything."

Referring to the shifting narratives from Russian authorities regarding Ukrainian involvement, Budanov said that the Kremlin has altered its version of events multiple times. He condemned terrorism against civilians, distancing Ukraine from any such acts.

"There were explanations by [Security Council Secretary Nikolai] Patrushev and [FSB Director Alexander] Bortnikov, who accused me personally and that Ukraine had done all this. It's nothing. By the way, if we have touched upon this painful issue, even though it is an enemy, I do not approve in principle of terrorist acts against civilians," Budanov said.

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On Friday, March 22,  gunmen opened fire at the Crocus City concert hall near Moscow, killing 143 concertgoers.

Four attack suspects – all from Tajikistan, according to Russian state media – are under arrest along with several suspected accomplices.

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The attack was swiftly claimed by Islamic State. Although Russian President Vladimir Putin acknowledged the involvement of “radical Islamists,” he continued to accuse Kyiv of aiding the suspects’ escape into Ukraine, a claim Kyiv categorically denied.

Individuals from Russian intelligence circles also claimed the West and Ukraine were to blame for the attack, although they did not provide any supporting evidence.

Bloomberg article reported that Putin’s inner circle does not believe his rhetoric that Ukraine was involved in the deadly concert hall attack in Moscow on March 22. However, they suggest that Putin plans to leverage the tragedy to mobilize public support for the war with Ukraine.

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