Gunmen burst into a Moscow-area concert hall last Friday evening and shot dead scores of people. Initial reports said that about 60 people were killed, but the death toll has since risen to 139. Many of those injured in the attack remain hospitalized.

ISIS-K, an affiliate of the Islamic State terrorist organization, claimed responsibility for the attack. Additionally, both the U.S. and France have reportedly shared intelligence with Russia that corroborates the ISIS-K admission. Despite all that, Putin, other high-ranking Russian officials, and the Russian media, have repeatedly insisted that Ukraine was behind the attack. It appears that when they think about Ukraine these days, Putin and his henchmen see shadows everywhere. Anything and everything that ail them seem to be caused by Ukraine.

Putin has consistently said that Ukraine’s aspiration to join NATO was the catalyst for his disastrous invasion of the country. He claims he fears that having a NATO country directly on Russia’s border would threaten Russia’s security. He has never bothered to explain how he has managed to sleep peacefully each night in the two decades that Estonia and Latvia, which both sit right on Russia’s border, have been members of the alliance. And the people here in the West and elsewhere who parrot the NATO-expansion nonsense as reason for the current war in Ukraine have also been shockingly and completely incurious about that question.

If Putin and the Russians truly believe that Ukraine was a participant in the concert-hall attack, then they should also know that they are in for some pretty rough times ahead. Such involvement would be a sign of an emerging Ukrainian insurgency, which would be a nightmare for Russia for many years, if not decades. One of Putin’s other arguments was that Ukrainians and Russians are brothers and sisters and thus he could not live with the idea of Ukraine joining NATO. He has instead stirred up a hornet’s nest. Ukrainian hatred toward Russia is so strong today that it may never fully dissipate. Every Russian should pray that the Ukrainians don’t begin to use that animosity as fuel to mount a guerilla war against Russia.

The absurdity of the NATO-expansion ruse for the war should hopefully become clearer to the Putin apologists over time. Even if he succeeded in conquering and absorbing Ukraine into Russia, that wouldn’t relieve his manufactured nervousness. His new border would bump up against Poland’s. Anyone who has followed Eastern European affairs in recent decades knows that the Poles and Russians are not the best of friends either. Putin would therefore have next to him a hostile NATO member that he would then need to invade for him to feel safe.

Taking that argument to its logical conclusion, Russia’s western border would need to stretch all the way to the North Sea. Along the way, Putin’s forces would conquer Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, and a host of Western European countries. And then would Russia have to march in other directions to the Baltic and Arctic Seas, and to the Pacific Ocean? Along each of those routes lie countries that are not overly friendly toward Russia, and would also need to be subjugated for the emperor in the Kremlin to have a good night’s sleep. Didn’t we see this kind of movie in the 1930s and 1940s?

Putin is clearly trying to deflect blame for last week’s attack due to his own intelligence failure. Even more embarrassing for him is the fact that other countries tried to warn him about it and he dismissed it as a Western ploy. Under the circumstances, Ukraine is a convenient scapegoat. But he and his compatriots should be careful what they wish for.