Kremlin rejects reports of Russian bounties to Taliban to kill US troops in Afghanistan
Russia has dismissed as “lies” media reports alleging that a Russian military intelligence unit attempted to pay bounties to members of the Taliban militant group to kill American troops in Afghanistan.
In a controversial report on Friday, the New York Times, citing an unnamed source, claimed that a top-secret unit within the Russian military intelligence, or the GRU, had allegedly offered monetary rewards to Taliban-linked militants to kill US troopers in the country last year.
The bombshell report, which was soon “confirmed” by some other newspapers, including the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal, further claimed that US intelligence officials had also reached the conclusion about the clandestine payments and then briefed President Donald Trump in March.
However, Trump on Sunday tweeted that “nobody” had ever briefed him about such a report by the “Fake News” NYT, calling on the daily to name the anonymous source for its story, “which ‘Everybody is denying it.’”
Later in the day, he added in a separate Tweet that “Intel just reported to me that they did not find this info credible, and therefore did not report it to me or @VP.”
On Monday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov lambasted the Times story as a bunch of “lies,” stressing that media outlets should take heed of Trump’s comments and also said that the American President and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, had never discussed the allegations.
Furthermore, Russia’s top Afghanistan diplomat denounced the Times story as “fake news,” whose aim is to target the Trump administration and his attempts to pull American troops out of Afghanistan.
“It is clear that there are forces in the US which don’t want to withdraw from Afghanistan, want a justification for their own failures. This is what it’s all about,” Zamir Kabulov said in an interview with RT.
“We really shouldn’t waste time commenting on the obvious lie,” he added.
The Taliban likewise has denied having had any deal with the Russian intelligence service.
In 2019, 20 US soldiers were killed in Afghanistan but ever since Washington and the Taliban reached an agreement in February, there have been no reported attacks by the militant group on the US positions.