Russia Offered Bounties to Kill US Troops in Afghanistan: Report
There were 20 US Troops that were killed in Afghanistan in 2019.
As per American Intelligence officials, a Russian military intelligence unit secretly offered bounties to Taliban-linked terrorists to kill US troops and other coalition forces in Afghanistan, the New York Times reported on Friday, 26 June.
Citing the officials who were briefed on the matter, the report also mentions that the Russian unit which has been linked to assassination attempts and other covert operations in Europe had offered these bounties for the attacks last year.
Islamist terrorist or armed criminal elements closely associated with them are believed to have collected some bounty money, the officials said.
There were 20 US Troops that were killed in Afghanistan in 2019 but it is not clear which of these killings were under suspicion.
While the officials are confident about the intelligence, the greater uncertainty is about how high in the Russian government the covert operation authorised is and what is the overall objective.
White House Declines Comment
US President Donald Trump was briefed about this intelligence and an inter-agency meeting was held by the White House National Security Council to discuss the problem.
The officials had come up with a number of options like making a diplomatic complaint to Moscow and demanding it to stop the operation and coming up with a number of sanctions and other possible responses.
It is said that the US government is yet to authorise any steps against Russia in response to the bounties.
As per the report, the Russian government has not been made aware of the accusations, said Dmitry Peskov, the press secretary for President Vladimir V Putin.
Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the Taliban, denied any involvement or relationship of the Taliban with any intelligence agency and called the report an attempt to defame the militant group.
The White House and the National Security Council have declined to comment on the matter and also did not explain why there has been a delay in responding to the intelligence about Russia.
US Striking A Deal With Taliban?
The intelligence gathered and the assessment is based on the interrogations of Afghan militants that were captured. The officials close to the matter did not describe how the targets were picked and how the money was delivered.
There is also ambiguity whether the Russian operatives in this mission met the Afghan militants in Afghanistan or another location outside the country.
Earlier, both the American and Afghan officials had accused Russia of providing small arms and other kinds of support to the Taliban although the same has been dismissed by the Russian government.
American troops have also reduced in considerable numbers in Afghanistan and their movement outside military bases has been restricted due to the coronavirus, making them less vulnerable to attacks.
The report also says that the United States is aiming to strike a deal with the Taliban for a phased US troop withdrawal.
Though the Russian government has declared the Taliban a terrorist organisation back in 2003, the relationship between the two parties has been developing quite warmly, the report mentions.
This revelation comes at a time when US President Donald Trump proposed he would be inviting Vladimir Putin to an expanded meeting of the Group of 7 nations, but the tension between the two countries is running high.
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