Putin exposed as ‘weak and vulnerable’ after terror attack in the heart of Moscow | World | News

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The terror attack at a Moscow theatre which has left at least 139 people dead have exposed Russia’s President Vladimir Putin as “weak and vulnerable” – in stark contrast to the image he tries to portray, a former British Army officer has said.

Colonel Tim Collins also pointed out that the attack on the Crocus City Hall music was not the first time such a venue had been targeted, pointing to an attack on another theatre in 2002 by Chechen separatists which also cost the lives of more than 100 people.

Speaking today, Putin said that the gunmen who killed 139 people in Friday’s attack were “radical Islamists,” while repeating his accusation that Ukraine could have played a role despite Kyiv’s strong denials.

But whoever the culprits, Col Collins said the tragedy left the 71-year-old badly exposed.

Writing for the Daily Telegraph, he said: “It is no secret that the Islamic State Khorasan (ISIS-K) group, identified as being behind the recent Moscow terror attack, hates Vladimir Putin and Russia.

“Russian military campaigns in Syria, Dagestan and Chechnya and Wagner Group actions in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger (as well as Mozambique and many other places) have positioned Russia as an enemy of these militant Islamists – and yet one of their more vulnerable foes.

“Putin’s (predictable) attempt to somehow blame the Ukrainians for the attack will fool very few at home or abroad.”

The conflict between radical Islamists and Russia was “not new at all”, explained for Royal Irish Regiment commander Col Collins, remembered for his rousing speech prior to the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

He explained: “Other attacks in Russia have included the Moscow theatre assault in 2002 which saw 132 hostages killed (mostly by a botched Russian attempt to gas the terrorists).

“Some 334 people – including 186 children – died in the Beslan school attack of 2004. More recently attacks on Moscow airport in 2011 and the St Petersburg Metro in 2017 again show a pattern and modus operandi typical of ISIS.”

The intent was “to goad the Russians into a disproportionate response against Muslims with the intent of further radicalising the sizeable Russian Muslim minority – which will soon make up a third of Russia’s population.

“This will be one reason why Putin, after a period of silence, has chosen to blame Ukraine for the attack.

“Putin needs to galvanise support for his failing war at home and is currently engaged in a near frenzied recruitment drive in Muslim majority former USSR states, including Tajikistan. He cannot blame Tajikistan for the atrocity, despite the evidence being clear.”

The attack was also a “catastrophic failure in intelligence” for the Russian FSB security agency, with both the US and UK intelligence agencies having warned weeks ago that an attack was looming.”

There was also the “realisation” that such a complex attack could not have been the work of just four Tajiks working in isolation, Col Collins said.

He added: “Together, these facts make Putin and his regime look weak and vulnerable even as he casts around looking for more enemies – real or imagined – in order to rally an increasingly war-weary Russian public and maintain his grasp on power.

“The attack is also a timely reminder to the rest of us that Putin’s crimes are not only of the last two years: he has been fighting brutal wars in many other places than Ukraine for decades and he must be stopped.

“If there is a ceasefire in Ukraine, Putin will soon be back, much stronger than he is now. Confronting him then will come at a price that we in the unprepared and self-indulgent West will be unwilling to pay.”

Speaking yesterday, Putin said: “We are seeing that the US, through various channels, is trying to convince its satellites and other countries of the world that, according to their intelligence, there is allegedly no Kyiv trace in the Moscow terror attack – that the bloody terrorist act was committed by followers of Islam, members of the Islamic State group.

“Those who support the Kyiv regime don’t want to be accomplices in terror and sponsors of terrorism, but many questions remain.”

The attack, has also left more than 180 injured, including 100 people who are still in hospital, officials have said.

Putin warned that more attacks could follow, alleging possible Western involvement. He did not mention the warning about a possible imminent terrorist attack that the US confidentially shared with Moscow two weeks before the raid.

Three days before the attack, Putin denounced the US. Embassy’s March 7 notice urging Americans to avoid crowds in Moscow, including concerts, calling it an attempt to frighten Russians and “blackmail” the Kremlin ahead of the presidential election.

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