Day 762: some in Putin’s own circle see no Ukraine link to Moscow attack, according to Bloomberg

Some in Putin’s own circle see no Ukraine link to the Moscow attack, according to Bloomberg. Russia launches an anti-ship missile at Kharkiv as power outages in the city persist.

Some in Putin’s own circle see no Ukraine link to Moscow attack, according to Bloomberg

There’s no evidence of Ukraine’s involvement in the terrorist attack outside Moscow on March 22, according to four people with close ties to the Kremlin, cited by Bloomberg. 

While Vladimir Putin continues to argue that Ukraine may have had a role in the Moscow attack that killed 139 people, some of the Russian president’s own inner circle disagree with him.

Putin was present at discussions where officials agreed there’s no link to Kyiv, but remains determined to use the tragedy to try to rally Russians behind the war in Ukraine, according to one person with knowledge of the situation, asking not to be identified because the matter is sensitive.

Kremlin officials were shocked by the failure of the security services to prevent Friday’s gun attack against people attending a concert in Moscow’s Crocus City Hall, according to the people. Almost nobody they know within Russia’s political and business elite believes Ukraine was behind the assault, the people said.

Russian security services failed to react promptly to the US warning and some officials may be ousted from their posts in retaliation, according to two people with links to the authorities. The attack may prompt a shake-up in the leadership of the security agencies, the people said, according to Bloomberg.

On March 22, 139 people were killed as gunmen opened fire on concertgoers at a concert hall in Krasnogorsk outside Moscow.

The Kremlin said the attackers were linked to the Ukrainian government, claiming Kyiv had “prepared a window” to allow them to cross the border and escape into its territory.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyi dismissed that claim.

On March 23, ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack. It released photos of the gunmen. An ISIS video shows the attackers storming the Crocus Hall with guns and knives.

Russia launches anti-ship missile at Kharkiv as power outages in city persist

On Thursday, a Russian Kh-35U anti-ship missile hit a dormitory at a sports college in Kharkiv, injuring a man.

“[A missile] hit a dormitory at a sports college. A powerful explosion destroyed the roof and floor joists of the upper stories,” head of the national police’s investigation unit in Kharkiv region, Serhiy Bolvinov, said on Facebook.

The strike injured a civilian, “there was no military personnel or equipment on the impact site,” he added.

Bolvinov also said that police had collected missile debris and documented evidence of a Russian war crime.

Kharkiv is still facing power shortages after a Russian missile strike on the city on March 22. It is difficult to say with certainty when power will be restored, Volodymyr Kudrytskyi, the chief executive officer of Ukrenergo told a news conference Tuesday.

“It is still difficult to guarantee when exactly [power will be restored]. It’s tentatively seven to ten days, possibly up to two weeks, before energy workers can fully restore the city’s power grid if there are no new massive damages,” Kudrytskyi said.  

Despite the unprecedented damage, he added, power to critical infrastructure is restored and outages to households are rotated.

“Restrictions on power usage are now introduced during day-time hours when consumption increases. (…) We have a clear plan stating what we need to do together with our colleagues from the regional energy company, regional military administration, mayor’s office, and the State Agency for Restoration and Development of Infrastructure to bring the situation back to normal. There are three technical solutions that we are implementing in parallel to make sure that the one that works the fastest will remove all restrictions on power usage in the city,” Kudrytskyi said.

He reassured that at this stage, Ukrenergo, Ukraine’s state power generator, has enough people, specialized vehicles and equipment to conduct repair works. 

“The only limiting factor is time. We need time to complete repair works and switch to reserve schemes,” Kudrytskyi said.

Repairs are a task of months, he added. Ukrenergo has fortified critical energy facilities with engineering solutions to step up protection from drones and missiles that could penetrate air defense systems. 

The exact amount of losses resulting from a Russian missile strike is not yet known, as at some sites works to clear debris continue, Kudrytskyi said. He added that estimated losses for the company’s substations alone amount to a few dozen million euros, but the number can increase to hundreds of millions of euro in case the count includes power generation facilities.