Kamala Harris Criticizes Putin’s Allegations of Ukraine’s Involvement in Moscow Concert Hall Shooting

Vice President Kamala Harris refuted Russian President Vladimir Putin’s assertion blaming Ukraine for the terrorist attack on a suburban Moscow concert hall, which claimed over 130 lives. Speaking to ABC’s Rachel Scott, Harris reiterated that ISIS was behind the shooting and subsequent bombing that caused a devastating fire at the Crocus City concert hall in Krasnogorsk, outside Moscow. Russia observed a national day of mourning on Sunday, with the death toll expected to rise.

“Vladimir Putin is already trying to link this to Ukraine and say that Ukraine is responsible. Does the U.S. have any evidence to back that up?” Scott asked during the interview, which aired on ABC’s “This Week” Sunday. 

“No. And first, let me start by saying what has happened is an act of terrorism and the number of people who’ve been killed is obviously a tragedy, and we should all send our condolences to those families,” Harris responded. “No, there is no whatsoever any evidence. And in fact, what we know to be the case is that ISIS is actually, by all accounts, responsible for what happened.”

In an evening address after the attack, Putin referred to the shooting as “a bloody, barbaric terrorist act.” He said that Russian authorities captured four suspects on Saturday as they were attempting to flee the country to Ukraine, and alleged that a “window” had been prepared for them on the Ukrainian side of the border. However, there is evidence to suggest that ISIS may have been the driving force behind the attack, outside of the fact that they have claimed responsibility for the attack while Kyiv has denied any involvement.

Russian media broadcast videos that apparently showed the detention and interrogation of the suspects, including one who told the cameras he was approached by an unidentified assistant to an Islamic preacher via a messaging app and paid to take part in the raid. Additionally, earlier in March, U.S. intelligence uncovered evidence that Islamic State-Khorasan, known as ISIS-K, a branch of the group based in Afghanistan, had been planning an attack on Moscow. Two weeks before the attack, the U.S. embassy issued a warning to Americans to “avoid large gatherings,” including concerts, because of “imminent plans” for an attack by “extremists.”

“The Embassy is monitoring reports that extremists have imminent plans to target large gatherings in Moscow, to include concerts, and U.S. citizens should be advised to avoid large gatherings over the next 48 hours,” stated the March 7 alert. It is unclear if they gave Russian officials additional information. Kyiv accused Putin, who did not mention ISIS in his speech, and other Russian politicians of falsely linking Ukraine to the assault to stoke fervor for Russia’s fight in Ukraine, which recently entered its third year.

“ISIS bears sole responsibility for this attack. There was no Ukrainian involvement whatsoever,” National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said in a statement.