According to the Russian government, the attack on a concert hall near Moscow that left more than 130 dead was carried out by foreigners. The four attackers were “all foreign citizens,” the Interior Ministry said on Saturday, without providing precise information about the nationality of the suspects. While the jihadist militia IS claimed responsibility for the attack, Russian head of state Vladimir Putin spoke of traces to Ukraine.

Putin personally announced the arrest of “all four attackers” in a televised speech. They were arrested when “they were moving towards Ukraine.” According to initial findings, a time window had been prepared for them to cross the border, said the Kremlin boss. He spoke of a “barbaric terrorist act” whose perpetrators would be punished.

Russian media and a lawmaker later reported that some of the arrested suspects were from Tajikistan. Russian state television showed footage of the arrest and interrogation of the four suspected attackers on Saturday evening. Footage from the Pervyj Kanal channel showed the suspects being led away by armed security forces. When questioned, two of the suspects admitted their guilt; according to the recordings, one of them said that he had acted for money reasons.

Masked attackers broke into the packed Crocus City Hall in the northwest Moscow suburb of Krasnogorsk on Friday evening and opened fire. According to the Russian Investigative Committee, the number of deaths rose to at least 133 on Saturday. It was the most serious attack in Russia in over 20 years.

According to the Russian Investigative Committee, the four attackers were arrested in the Bryansk region, which borders Ukraine and Belarus. In total, the Kremlin reported eleven arrests. Putin compared the attackers to “Nazis” and said the attack was an “atrocity, a blow to Russia and our people.” “Those behind these terrorists will be punished.”

Putin confirmed the version of his domestic secret service FSB, which had previously stated that the attackers had “contacts” in Ukraine. Putin did not respond to the IS self-accusation, nor did the Russian authorities.

The Ukrainian leadership dismissed the allegations as “absurd.” Ukraine does not have the slightest connection to the incident, presidential advisor Mychailo Podoljak explained on the online service X. Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, however, warned against using the attack as a pretext for escalation. “We hope that this terrible tragedy does not serve as a pretext – for anyone – for an escalation of violence and aggression,” he said on X.

IS, on the other hand, which is fighting against Russia in Syria and is also active in the Russian Caucasus region, confirmed its responsibility for the attack on the Telegram online service on Saturday afternoon. “The attack was carried out by four IS fighters,” the militia said. They were “armed with machine guns, a pistol, knives and firebombs.” The attack is part of the “natural context of the raging war” with the “countries that fight Islam.”

According to US information, the US embassy in Moscow warned its compatriots two weeks ago of a possible planned attack in the Russian capital. It was said that this could be directed against a large gathering and also against a concert. According to US information, this information was also made available to Russian authorities.

There were expressions of solidarity from numerous countries. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called the attack a “heinous crime” and said the US stood “in solidarity with the Russian people”. Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) condemned “the terrible terrorist attack on innocent concert-goers in Moscow.”

Turkish head of state Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed to Putin in a phone call “his deep sadness and condolences … for the terrorist attack in Moscow,” his office said. He also assured Moscow of Ankara’s willingness to cooperate in the fight against terror.