FSB chief General Alexander Bortnikov, 72, accused US, Britain and Ukraine of being behind the terrorist strike at Crocus City Hall

A Vladimir Putin security henchman has blamed the US and UK for the Moscow massacre claiming the killers were to be “greeted as heroes” in Ukraine.

FSB chief General Alexander Bortnikov, 72, accused US, Britain and Ukraine of being behind the terrorist strike at Crocus City Hall, and claimed that the “killers” were to be “greeted as heroes” when they crossed the border.‌ The veteran counterintelligence chief vowed to assassinate the head of Ukrainian military intelligence Lt. Gen. Kyrylo Budanov, 38, who has been behind some of Ukraine’s most successful operations including the use of kamikaze drones.

He was asked by a journalist: “Is [Lt Gen Kyrylo] Budanov our legitimate target, and the rest of the leadership of Ukraine’s security services?” The Putin-loyal spymaster replied: “All those who commit crimes against Russia and Russian citizens are a legitimate target.”‌

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He was asked: “Why are they still alive?”‌ Bortnikov replied: “All ahead.” He also claimed that the SBU – the Ukrainian equivalent of the SBU – should be branded a terrorist organisation. He claimed Ukraine had trained Islamic militants in the Middle East to attack Russia. On the alleged link to Ukraine over the Circus City Hall massacre, the FSB chief backed up Putin in saying there was a “window” for the “terrorists” to escape to Ukraine.

But he said: “I don’t want to be unsubstantiated, in order to say some unverified or emotional information, to base it on, we need to talk about facts. “We will be guided by facts in our further work.‌ A lot is being done now to identify all the participants in this massacre both here in the country and, of course, abroad.”

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But then he contracted himself to say he knew the alleged killers were to be given a warm welcome on reaching Ukraine. “I’ll let you in on a little secret, they were going to be greeted as heroes on the other side,” said Bortnikov. “That phrase, that’s what I’m saying for the moment.‌ Let’s see where the statements of the scoundrels who are now under investigation lead.”‌

Yet given that the detainees have suffered torture – one with his ear cut off, another with electrodes attached to his genitals – they may say whatever the FSB wants to hear.‌ Blaming the West, he said: “The terrorist attack in Crocus was needed by Western intelligence services and Ukraine in order to shake up the situation and create panic in society in Russia.”

Asked if the US, Britain and Ukraine were behind the atrocity, he replied: “Well I think so.”‌ He added: “Anyway, we’re talking about the facts that we have them.‌ “This is general information, so to speak, but there are already some developments.”

Secretary of the Russian Security Council, Nikolai Patrushev – the most powerful man in Russia after Putin – said “a lot of things point: to Ukraine being behind the atrocity. “The Investigative Committee will analyse everything now, and there will be information.

“And special services and law enforcement agencies, they have it all, they will tell about it in time.”

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