Kremlin tying West to terrorist attacks to generate domestic support for war in Ukraine – ISW

Kremlin tying West to terrorist attacks to generate domestic support for war in Ukraine – ISW

Russian officials are tying the US and the West to a broader set of “terrorist” attacks against Russia following the Crocus City Hall attack, likely to intensify rhetoric about alleged Western and Ukrainian threats to generate greater domestic support for the war in Ukraine.

The Washington-based Institute for the Study of War said this in its latest report, according to Ukrinform.

The Russian Investigative Committee and Prosecutor General’s Office stated on March 27 that they will consider an appeal from the Russian State Duma to investigate American and Western financing and organization of terrorist attacks against Russia. At the same time, the Russian Investigative Committee, Prosecutor General’s Office, and the Duma Deputies that made the appeal did not explicitly reference the Crocus City Hall attack.

Read also: Russia knew about terrorist attack plot since Feb 15 - Ukraine’s defense intel chief

Kremlin officials have previously tied Ukraine and the West to the Crocus City Hall attack but have yet to make a formal accusation, and the Kremlin may refrain from issuing an official accusation as all available evidence continues to show that the Islamic State (IS) is very likely responsible for the attack, ISW experts said.

Russian officials routinely describe Ukrainian military strikes against legitimate military targets in occupied Ukraine and Russia as terrorism and consistently claim that Western actors help organize these strikes.

“The Kremlin likely aims to seize on wider Russian social fears and anger following the Crocus City Hall attack by portraying Ukraine, the US, and the West as immediate terrorist threats,” the report says.

According to ISW experts, the Kremlin likely hopes that perceptions of Ukrainian and Western involvement in the Crocus City Hall attack will increase domestic support for the war in Ukraine, and Russian officials will likely invoke a broader view of what they consider terrorism to further cast Ukrainians as terrorists and the West as a sponsor of terrorism.

The Kremlin may still formally accuse Ukraine of conducting the Crocus City Hall attack if it believes that these other informational efforts are insufficient to generate the domestic response it likely desires, ISW experts summarized.  

As reported, the Crocus City Hall attack took place on the evening of March 22. More than 6,000 people were in the building. A group of armed men opened fire on the visitors with automatic weapons. The building was set on fire. The death toll in the attack has grown to 143 people.

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