U.S. intelligence has determined that the Russian military offered monetary rewards to the Taliban in Afghanistan for the killings of U.S. and other coalition soldiers, the New York Times reported yesterday, but Russia and the Taliban today vehemently denied the information separately.
According to anonymous officials quoted by the American daily, the Russian intelligence unit (GRU) secretly gave money to Islamist fighters and criminals “close to the Taliban” to kill American and NATO soldiers in Afghanistan.
The New York Times writes that US President Donald Trump was informed about alleged Russian cash prizes, as well as the United Kingdom whose soldiers were also the target of the attack.
It is not known which case of the 20 Americans killed in the fighting in 2019 is under suspicion, the paper reported.
The White House has not commented yet
The White House, the CIA, and the Office of the Director of the National Intelligence Agency declined to comment to Reuters on the New York Times report.
Russia and the Taliban on Saturday separately denied information from the New York Times, which writes, citing U.S. intelligence officials, that Moscow offered a monetary reward to Afghan insurgents to kill Western troops in Afghanistan.
“This primitive information garbage clearly shows the low intellectual abilities of the propagandists in the American intelligence service,” the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs wrote in a statement, the Russian news agency RIA reported.
“These baseless and anonymous accusations that Moscow is behind the deaths of US troops in Afghanistan have already led to a direct threat to the lives of Russian embassy employees in Washington and London,” the Russian embassy in the United States said on Twitter.
In another message, the embassy called on the New York Times to “stop spreading false information” and asked U.S. authorities to “take effective measures” to protect employees.
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The Taliban deny the allegations
Both the Taliban, which has been fighting Afghan authorities and foreign troops since being ousted by a US-led international coalition in 2001, have vehemently denied the allegations.
“The holy war that the Islamic Emirate (as Afghanistan was called during the Taliban regime from 1996 to 2001) has been waging for 19 years has nothing to do with any intelligence service or foreign country,” they said in a statement issued in Kabul.
Afghan insurgents have also denied earlier US accusations of Russian arms shipments.
“The Islamic Emirate has used weapons, facilities and assets (…) that were already in Afghanistan or were looted by the enemy in combat,” the group said, recalling that homemade explosive devices were responsible for most of America’s losses in Afghanistan.
The Taliban also point out that they continue to respect the agreement signed on February 29 in Doha with Washington, which stipulates that they will stop attacking foreign soldiers, who in turn will gradually withdraw from Afghanistan by the spring of 2021.
The Taliban have largely stopped attacking foreign troops, but continue their actions against Afghan forces whom Washington continues to jump to help on the ground.
Although the Taliban movement is officially banned in Russia, Moscow hosted peace talks in Afghanistan in 2019, with the participation of their representatives.
Russia, concerned about the situation in Afghanistan because of the proximity of that conflict with its sphere of influence in Central Asia, has always denied Washington’s accusations of helping the Taliban.
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