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Ukraine’s intelligence chief, Kyrylo Budanov, claimed that Russia was aware of a terrorist attack being planned since Feb. 15, well ahead of the March 22 attack at the Crocus City Hall concert venue in Moscow where 143 people died. Russia blamed Ukraine and its allies for the attack, but Ukraine and the White House have denied involvement. Budanov stated that Russia knew details about the attack beforehand and suggested that they may have allowed it to happen to remove high-ranking officials or to blame Ukraine. However, no evidence has been presented to support these claims by either party.

Russian President Vladimir Putin dismissed the idea that Russia would attack NATO but warned that any F-16 fighters given to Ukraine would be legitimate targets for Russian forces. He accused NATO of expanding towards Russia and stated that Russia has no intention of fighting with the military alliance. While NATO has denied encroaching upon Russia, its border with the country has more than doubled since Finland joined the bloc, in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The death toll from the Moscow terrorist attack has risen to 143, with 19 people, including three children, in serious condition. The Investigative Committee is still investigating the attack, and Russia continues to blame Ukraine and the West for orchestrating it. Meanwhile, Russia may have used a new type of guided bomb in airstrikes on the city of Kharkiv in Ukraine, causing civilian casualties and destruction of buildings. Ukrainian President Zelenskyy condemned the attack as “Russian terror”, but Russia denies targeting civilians and has not commented on the use of a new bomb type.

A Russian court sentenced Lyusya Shtein, a member of Pussy Riot, to six years in prison in absentia for anti-war social media posts. Shtein was found guilty of spreading “war fakes” and at least 19,855 people have been detained in Russia for expressing anti-war views. Russia’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova expressed doubt that the Islamic State was behind the Moscow attack that killed 140 people, despite the group claiming responsibility. Russian officials and media have instead blamed Western countries and Ukraine for the attack, while Western leaders have rejected these claims.

At least one person has died and 12 others, including children, were injured in the latest Russian strikes on Kharkiv, Ukraine. The mayor of Kharkiv reported that apartment buildings and a medical facility were struck, with ongoing efforts to search for those in need of help. Russian state investigators announced they would study a request to investigate Western involvement in “terrorism” against Russia, following claims from Russian officials that the U.S., U.K., and Ukraine were behind the Crocus City Hall attack. The White House dismissed these claims as Kremlin propaganda, and the U.K., U.S., and Ukraine have not responded to the latest accusations by Russian officials. Putin has accepted that “radical Islamists” were behind the attack but continues to connect Ukraine to the incident without presenting evidence.

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