Russia admitted for the first time this Friday that the terrorist group Islamic State (IS) coordinated the attack against the Crocus City Hall concert hall, near Moscow, which on March 22 left more than 140 dead. But he continues to accuse Ukraine. The head of the Russian Security Services (FSB), Alexander Bortnikov, assured that Ukrainian military intelligence is “directly involved.”

“In the course of the investigation, it was determined that the preparation, financing, attack and withdrawal of the terrorists were coordinated over the Internet by members of the Khorasan Province group,” the Afghan branch of IS, Bórtnikov stated, quoted by the Ría Nóvosti agency.

In the worst attack in Russia since 2004, gunmen dressed in camouflage clothing broke into and opened fire at the Crocus City Hall concert hall on the outskirts of Moscow. They then set fire to the building. As a result, 144 people died and 360 were injured.

More than 20 suspects were detained, including the four attackers, all from Tajikistan, a small former Soviet republic in Central Asia that borders Afghanistan.

From the beginning, Russia has seen the “Ukrainian footprint” in the terrorist attack. Kyiv, however, has repeatedly stated that it had nothing to do with the attack. The G-7 (United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, Canada, France and Japan) rejected Ukraine’s participation. French President Emmanuel Macron described as threatening the statements by the Russian side accusing its neighbor, with whom it has had a war conflict for more than two years.

At the end of March, Russian President Vladimir Putin acknowledged that the massacre was committed by “radical Islamists,” but continued to suggest that Kyiv had ordered it.

According to Moscow, after the attack the perpetrators fled to Ukraine. Bórtnikov reiterated this idea this Friday. In his statement he assures that “upon completion of the attack, the terrorists received clear instructions to head to the Ukrainian border, from where the other side prepared a ‘window'” for them to escape.

The head of the FSB links this escape plan to the Ukrainian intelligence services. “The investigation is ongoing, but it is now safe to say that Ukrainian military intelligence is directly involved in this attack,” Bortnikov said, quoted by the Tass agency.

Bortnikov added that those who commissioned the attack on the concert hall wanted to spoil Russia’s relations with the allied countries of the former Soviet space using religious and national factors. ”Our geopolitical opponents hope to destroy the unique interethnic and interfaith balance that has developed over the long period of coexistence of our peoples,” he stated.

However, Bortnikov did not give details of his accusation against Ukraine. In early May, he said that the main organizer of the terrorist attack was abroad, but he also did not specify where.

He also accused NATO of facilitating the transfer of “mercenaries and militants from international terrorist organizations from the Middle East, North Africa and Afghanistan” to Ukraine to fight the Russian army there.

Russia has found it difficult to admit the responsibility of IS in the attack, despite the fact that it claimed responsibility in March. US authorities stated after the attack that they had intelligence showing that the attack had been carried out by the Afghan branch of the network, the Islamic State of Khorasan.

After Moscow’s first accusations against Kyiv, US President Joe Biden’s advisor, Jake Sullivan, said that Russia knows that the culprit of the attack is IS, and recalled that Washington had previously warned Moscow about an imminent terrorist attack.

According to Bortnikov, the data transmitted by the US was of a general nature, the Russian special services “reacted to this information and took appropriate measures.”