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EDITORIAL | Terror Makes Inroads Into Russia as Putin Invades Ukraine

Russia has concentrated its military and security forces on the invasion of its neighbor. Domestic terror group Islamic State exploited that defense gap.



Russian security forces stand in front of the concert hall in a suburb of Moscow where the recent terror attack occurred. (© Tass/Kyodo)

From Moscow, the Russian regime led by Vladimir Putin continues its immoral invasion of Ukraine. Nevertheless, terror attacks that indiscriminately kill or injure Russian civilians can in no way be condoned.

Recently, a group of armed men burst into a concert venue in a Moscow suburb. They opened fire on the audience with automatic weapons and also set fire to the building. In all, 137 people died and many more were injured in the attack. 

The Islamic State (IS), an extremist group of Sunni Muslims, claimed responsibility for the attack. They issued a statement saying they had targeted a place where many Christians had gathered and were able to kill or wound hundreds. 

Since then, the Russian authorities have taken into custody 11 suspects, including the four men alleged to have carried out the assault. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting, held via video link to discuss aftermaths and measures taken after the attack on the Crocus City Hall concert venue, outside Moscow, Russia, March 25, 2024. (© Sputnik/Mikhail Metzel/Pool via REUTERS )

Significant Blow to Putin

Putin had just been elected to a fifth term as Russia's president in an "overwhelming" victory at the polls. Then this tragedy occurred the following weekend. The incident has caused a humiliating blow to the prestige of Putin, who had promised the Russian people he would "protect the nation and stabilize society." 

Clearly, the Putin regime dropped the ball in its efforts to combat terrorism. In early March, the United States government provided Russia with intelligence about an upcoming terror attack on Moscow. However, Putin did not take the information seriously, dismissing the report of an imminent threat as "blackmail." 

Thereafter, the terrorists easily penetrated the concert hall's security net. Moreover, the scale of the tragedy was made worse by the fact that the special forces units that deal with terrorist incidents did not arrive until roughly an hour and a half after the attack began. 

Attempt to Deflect Blame to Ukraine

Then, during a televised interview, without providing a shred of evidence, Putin accused Ukraine of involvement. He suggested that prior arrangements had been made for the four radical Islamist gunmen to cross the border into Ukraine as a "window was prepared for them from the Ukrainian side." 


It was a truly despicable declaration designed to deflect criticism of Russia's lapses in security and incite hatred. His insinuation that Ukraine was somehow involved in the attack was completely unfounded.

People lay flowers of remembrance near the scene of a mass shooting in Krasnogorsk, Moscow. March 24, 2024 (© Kyodo)

Russia's Disenchanted Islamic Population

Ten years ago, IS took advantage of the turmoil in the Middle East, including the Syrian civil war, to declare the establishment of a fundamentalist Islamic state. It was battling the Syrian government, but thereafter, the Putin regime earned IS's enmity by providing Syria with massive military assistance. 

IS had also been weakened by military operations carried out by American and other militaries. Nevertheless, they appear to have been able to exploit gaps in Russia's defenses caused by its concentrating its military and security forces on the invasion of its neighbor. Those gaps allowed IS to carry out this horrible act of terror. 

Many of the Russian soldiers fighting in Ukraine were mobilized from Muslim-majority areas in the Caucasus region of Russia. The infiltration of Islamic extremists supporting increasingly disenchanted Muslim populations in Russia has also been noted.

The Putin regime will now be forced to devise a two-pronged strategy for dealing with both "Ukraine" and "terrorism."  The Kremlin must realize it will not be able to implement adequate measures to deal with the terror threat unless it immediately desists from its invasion of Ukraine and withdraws its military completely. 


(Read the editorial in Japanese.)

Author: Editorial Board, The Sankei Shimbun

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