Zelenskyy accuses Putin of deflecting blame for concert hall massacre

KYIV, Ukraine — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused Russian President Vladimir Putin in a Saturday night video address of seeking ways to shift blame for the massacre at a concert hall near Moscow, which occurred Friday.

The accusation follows historical tensions, notably the 1999 apartment bombings in Moscow, Buynaksk, and Volgodonsk, which killed more than 200 people. Chechen rebels have accused Russian secret services of orchestrating these attacks, initially blamed on Chechens, prompting then-Prime Minister Putin to deploy troops to Chechnya.

In response to Zelenskyy’s comments, a Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman labeled him as “the only head of state deranged enough to accuse Russia of the terrorist attack.”

Putin revealed that authorities had detained 11 individuals in connection to the assault, including four gunmen. He alleged, “They attempted to flee and headed toward Ukraine, where, based on preliminary information, arrangements were made for them to cross the border.”

Zelenskyy countered, suggesting Putin should focus on combating terrorism within Russia’s borders rather than engaging in the invasion of Ukraine.