The brutal terrorist attack in Moscow is a blow to Putin

Moscow (CNN) — Barely a week after Vladimir Putin won his fifth presidential term, Russia descended into carnage and chaos.

The horrific attack on the giant Crocus City Hall concert venue and shopping complex near Moscow, which was claimed by ISIS, left hundreds of innocent people dead or injured.

According to Russian officials, four people suspected of carrying out the attack were detained near Russia’s border with Ukraine. While Putin said he had planned to cross into Ukraine, Kiev denied any connection to the attack and warned that Russia could use it as a pretext to escalate its offensive.

Security was tightened at Russia’s main transportation hubs due to fears of new attacks. Public concerts and sporting events were postponed.

This is nowhere close to the stability and security that so many Russians voted for President Putin for.

For years, the Kremlin strongman has presented himself as a leader capable of guaranteeing order in this vast and turbulent country.

Crowd paying tribute to the victims of terrorist attack. (Credit: CNN)

However, Russia currently appears more insecure and unstable than at any time in Putin’s 24 years of rule.

The Kremlin’s brutal war in Ukraine, now in its third horrific year, has cost Russians dearly. The military does not release casualties, but US estimates suggest that more than 300,000 Russians have been killed or wounded.

Many soldiers mobilized last year have not yet been removed from the front, prompting protests by upset relatives. As the war progresses, fear grows among many Russians that conscription will increase, driving even more Ukrainians into the horrific Ukrainian meat grinder.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian drone strikes and cross-border raids by Ukraine-based Russian militias opposed to the Kremlin continue.

On the Ukrainian front, Russian forces currently hold the military initiative, but the poor performance of Russian command and weapons throughout the war has fueled completely unexpected instability and internal dissent by bloggers and military personnel. Who is in charge.

The rebellion last year by Yevgeny Prigozhin, leader of the Wagner mercenary group, which sought to oust the Russian high command was a shocking and unprecedented challenge to the Kremlin’s authority.

His death in a mysterious plane crash shortly afterwards definitively ended any threat to Prigozhin. But other harsh dissatisfactions may arise.

Similarly, the recent death of Alexei Navalny, Russia’s most prominent opposition leader, certainly silenced a staunch critic of the Kremlin. But the thousands of people who attended his funeral in Moscow, or who turned out to vote in a huge afternoon rally against Putin at polling stations on the final day of the presidential election, suggest there is a groundswell of discontent.

Russian emergency services vehicles stand near the burning Crocus City Hall concert venue after a reported shooting on the outskirts of Moscow, Russia, on March 22. (Maxim Shemetov/Reuters)

But now, attention is firmly focused on the apparent recurrence of large-scale jihadist terrorist attacks in Russia, unrelated to the war in Ukraine or domestic opposition to the Kremlin.

To make matters worse, the United States and other Western governments warned in early March about the existence of intelligence suggesting such an attack. US officials say they have been providing information to Russia for months.

However, for some reason, Putin preferred to ignore the warnings, calling them “a provocation to intimidate and destabilize our society…”

Perhaps it was mistrust, with Russian-American relations at an all-time low. It may also be that the US information is too vague or impractical.

However, for a leader who promises security and stability to Russians, a major attack on Russian soil is another blow.

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