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Russia Offered Bounties to Talibans to Kill US Troops in Afghanistan

Russia Offered Bounties to Talibans to Kill US Troops in Afghanistan

The war on terror in Afghanistan has claimed lives for close to two decades now and it is still far from over. New reports indicate Russian intelligence officers offered bounties to Talibans to kill U.S. troops in the war as recently as last year. This revelation comes amid peace talks to end the 18-year war in Afghanistan.

According toThe New York Times, U.S. intelligence agencies linked this effort to a Russian intelligence unit suspected of secret assassination attempts in Europe. A written intelligence report of these findings is alleged to have been presented to Donald Trump in early March.

Speaking to ABC News in regard to the death of 23 U.S. troops last year in Afghanistan, a military official said, whether any were targeted by Taliban fighters paid by Russian operatives isn’t known. Although the official didn’t know whether President Trump was briefed on this matter, he claimed that other senior U.S. officials learned of the Russian operation “months ago.” The officer who did not want to speak on record said: "There is no way to really confirm if it actually worked."

Democrats have been furious after learning the news and pointed to Trump’s overly close relationship with Russia’s autocratic leader, Vladimir Putin, as even more concerning.

Tim Kaine, the Virginia Senator who was Hillary Clinton’s running mate in 2016, said: Trump was cozying up to Putin and inviting him to the G7 all while his administration reportedly knew Russia was trying to kill US troops in Afghanistan and derail peace talks with the Taliban.”

Michael McFaul, a former ambassador to Russia and a professor of political science at Stanford University, said: “I hope the American people will be as outraged as I am over Trump’s complacency. After he knew about these Putin-ordered contracts to kill US soldiers, Trump invited Putin to the G7.”

This sad news comes after the U.S. reached an initial peace deal with the Taliban. The peace deal aimed for the complete withdrawal of the U.S. military from the war-torn country within a year. This peace pact was supposed to kickstart talks between the rebels and the Afghanistan government but it is unfortunate that they have not materialized.

The Russian unit that U.S. officials reportedly identified as responsible for the bounties has equally been linked to the poisoning of Sergei Skripal, an ex-Russian officer, in Britain in 2018, which led to an intense and furious diplomatic dispute between London and Moscow. Today, many people believe that President Trump’s close relationship with Russia is a source of much scandal and frustration with US allies, especially those in Europe.

It is important to point out here that a Whitehouse Spokesperson declined to comment on the veracity of the intelligence report but did refute the point that President Trump was informed in March about the bounties to kill U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

In a statement, the White House Press Secretary, Kayleigh McEnany said: "While the White House does not routinely comment on alleged intelligence or internal deliberations, the CIA Director, National Security Advisor, and the Chief of Staff can all confirm that neither the President nor the Vice President were briefed on the alleged Russian bounty intelligence. This does not speak to the merit of the alleged intelligence but to the inaccuracy of the New York Times story erroneously suggesting that President Trump was briefed on this matter."

In a recent tweet, President Donald Trump denied ever being briefed on this matter as he added that "nobody has been tougher on Russia than the Trump Administration."

As first reported in the New York Times, a counterterrorism source confirmed to ABC News that this very information was known in January after U.S. special operations raids in Afghanistan found stacks of cash.

There are currently about 8,600 U.S. troops in Afghanistan. While many are Special Operations Forces, it is not yet clear which troops the Russians wanted the Talibans to kill. According to the New York Times report, no decisions have been made inside the White House for any kind of response yet.

Since the war in Afghanistan started in 2001, about 2,310 U.S. troops have lost their lives. This is not the first time that American forces are reporting attacks from the Russian military. Reports hold that, in little-known incidents, U.S. Special Forces have encountered Russian soldiers in Afghanistan. Likewise, American commandos have often come across Russian troops in the deadly, and complicated Syrian battle. It must also be noted that U.S. fighter jets interception of Russian military aircraft skirting U.S. airspace have been frequent this year.

With all this knowledge, many still wonder why President Trump appears to be quite close to Russia’s President. "We have this great friendship. And, by the way, getting along with Russia is a great thing, getting along with [President Vladimir] Putin and Russia is a great thing,"President Trump said on May 8. In a friendship move, President Donald Trump postponed the G7 last month with the objective of inviting Russia to join.

"Russia is an enemy of the United States. We identify them as such in our national security strategy, but treat them as if they are allies. Why else would we be pushing to include a country in the G7 that invaded another country and is now killing our soldiers?" said Mick Mulroy, who served as a CIA Officer and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East.

 

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