Kyiv, Ukraine — The U.S. State Department says it has information that Russia will increase its attacks on Ukraine this week, potentially in retaliation for a deadly car bombing outside Moscow that killed a Russian TV commentator. President Vladimir Putin’s regime was quick to blame Ukraine for the attack that killed Daria Dugina, the 29-year-old daughter of a prominent Kremlin backer and close associate of Putin.
Russian state media aired video that it claimed shows the attacker crossing the border into Russia. Ukraine’s government vigorously denies any involvement, but as CBS News correspondent Debora Patta reports from Kyiv, the nation is still bracing for a Russian backlash to the bombing, and the U.S. believes one is coming. The State Department on Monday warned any Americans in Ukraine to get out now.
“Given Russia’s track record in Ukraine, we are concerned about the continued threat that Russian strikes pose to civilians and civilian infrastructure,” a U.S. official told CBS News on Tuesday, saying the alert was based on “information that Russia is stepping up efforts to launch strikes against Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure and government facilities in the coming days.”
Dugina was killed instantly on Saturday night when her car blew up on the outskirts of Moscow. A memorial service was held for her Tuesday in the Russian capital.
The Kremlin claimed to have solved the case within just 24 hours, releasing video of woman who Russia said was the culprit, and a “Ukrainian agent.”
Dugina’s father, Alexander Dugin, is a vocal supporter of the war and is so close to the Russian leader that he’s sometimes referred to as “Putin’s brain.”
File photos of Russian political commentator Daria Dugina, left, and her father, Alexander Dugin, a Putin ally and nationalist political theorist. Dugina was killed in a car bombing on the outskirts of Moscow on Saturday, Aug. 20, 2022. Left: TSARGRAD.TV via Reuters / Right: Moscow News Agency/Handout via REUTERS
Now the violence against Ukraine that he has long campaigned for has seemingly crashed into his own personal life. It’s believed that he, not his daughter, was the intended target of the weekend bombing.
The motivation behind the attack was still unclear Tuesday and no group had claimed responsibility, but former Russian politician Ilya Ponomarov, who was forced into exile after voting against Putin’s annexation of the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine in 2014, told CBS News he was convinced that it was the work of an underground Russian resistance group.
“Their ultimate goal is to overthrow Putin, to stop the war and build a government of social justice” Ponomarev told Patta of the group, with which he said he was in direct contact.
Russia blames Ukraine for deadly car bomb attack 04:21
The exiled politician said as many as 10,000 people could be involved in the resistance group in some way, and he added of the brazen bombing just outside Moscow: “Obviously, this is just the beginning.”
Regardless of who really master-minded and carried out the attack that killed Dugina, there’s fear Russia will use it as an excuse to ramp up attacks this week.
Ukrainian forces and civilians were already on edge ahead of Wednesday’s Independence Day, which coincides with the six-month anniversary of Russia’s invasion. Now they are also bracing for revenge attacks.
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