Macron: it would be cynical, counterproductive for Russia to pin Moscow attack on Ukraine

FILE PHOTO: French President Emmanuel Macron speaks during a press conference on the day of a European Union leaders summit in Brussels, Belgium March 22, 2024. REUTERS/Yves Herman/File Photo

PARIS (Reuters) -French President Emmanuel Macron said on Monday all signs indicated that Islamic State carried out an attack on a concert hall near Moscow in which 137 people were killed, and he said it would be “cynical and counterproductive” for Russia to blame Ukraine.

Russia has challenged assertions by the United States and other countries that the Islamic State militant group orchestrated Friday’s attack, accusing Washington of covering for Ukraine.

“This attack was claimed by Islamic State and the information available to us, to our (intelligence) services as well as to our main partners, indicates indeed that it was an entity of the Islamic State which instigated this attack,” Macron said.

“I think that it would be both cynical and counterproductive for Russia itself and the security of its citizens to use this context to try and turn it against Ukraine.”

President Vladimir Putin has not publicly mentioned the Islamist militant group in connection with the attackers, who he said had been trying to escape to Ukraine.

Putin said some people on “the Ukrainian side” had been prepared to spirit the gunmen across the border. Ukraine has denied any role in the attack and President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has accused Putin of seeking to divert blame for the attack by mentioning Ukraine.

Russia’s foreign ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, called into question U.S. assertions that Islamic State, which once sought control over swathes of Iraq and Syria, was behind the attack.

Macron said that Islamic State’s affiliate in Afghanistan, which is known as ISIS-Khorasan or ISIS-K, which claimed responsibility for the Moscow attack, had also tried to commit attacks in France.

“This specific group…had over the past months attempted attacks on our soil,” he said.

This explained why the French government on Sunday raised its terror alert warning to its highest level following the Moscow attack, he said.

Macron was speaking as he arrived for a visit in French Guiana.

“We have offered to increase cooperation with the Russian (intelligence) services and our partners in the region, so that the culprits can be found as quickly as possible and so that we continue to fight effectively against these groups which are targeting several countries.”


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