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U.S. doesn't know if Russia directed Taliban attacks in Afghanistan, Pentagon says

13 Comments
By Phil Stewart and Idrees Ali

The United States believes Russia has given support to Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan in the past but does not have intelligence to confirm it directed attacks against Americans or to corroborate that it paid bounties to kill American troops, the top U.S. general said on Thursday.

The remarks by Army General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, were under oath to Congress after lawmakers emerged from a separate classified briefing about U.S. intelligence that Russia may have paid the Taliban to kill American troops.

Milley and Defense Secretary Mark Esper said the U.S. military, which counts intelligence agencies including the National Security Agency (NSA) and Defense Intelligence Agency(DIA), could not corroborate the intelligence, which sources say was collected by the CIA.

Milley did not dispute that Russia, like other countries, had long been involved in Afghanistan.

"But there's a big distinction between arming and directing(military activity). We know about arms. We know about weapons. We know about support, things like that," Milley told the House Armed Services Committee, sitting alongside Esper at a hearing.

"We don't have -- in the case of the Russians -- we do not have concrete corroborating evidence, intelligence, to show 'directing.' That's a big difference."

He added that the United States was still looking into the matter and, if it were confirmed the Russians were paying the Taliban bounties, it would be a "big deal."

President Donald Trump, a Republican who has worked to cultivate warmer relations with Moscow, has downplayed the significance of the intelligence and denied being briefed on the matter before it was reported by news outlets last month.

A Republican lawmaker, Lee Zeldin, who is a strong defender of Trump, said at a separate hearing at the House Foreign Relations Committee that the intelligence was in a written February presidential brief prepared for Trump but was not orally briefed to him.

Retired U.S. Army general John Nicholson, a former U.S. commander in Afghanistan, said the Russians had previously been arming, equipping and even giving money to the Taliban in modest amounts.

But he said Moscow had in years past carefully calibrated its support to avoid becoming a "game-changer" on the battlefield. Nicholson cited one telling example, saying the Taliban wanted surface-to-air missiles but the Russians "didn't give them."

He said Russian bounties, if they did occur, "would mark a departure from this previously calibrated approach."

© Thomson Reuters 2020.

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

13 Comments
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In other words, there is no substance behind the lates NY Times anti-Trump hoax.

-6 ( +6 / -12 )

Why would members of the Taliban need financial incentives to attack a foreign army that has occupied their country and killed their friends and neighbours for nearly two decades? The entire premise of this story never made sense. It's far more likely that it was conjured up and fed to the NY Times by those who stand to lose millions in defence contracts once the imminent US withdrawal from Afghanistan occurs. There have already been calls to halt the withdrawal until this has been fully investigated (which would be never).

Also, the hypocrisy of US law makers is astounding. The US drops pallets of cash and weapons on armed groups in nearly every conflict zone in the world, from Syria to Ukraine to Libya to Venezuela. This backing obviously comes with the implicit understanding that it will be used to kill America's enemies.

-4 ( +4 / -8 )

In other words, people who care about this issue are left to decide whether beyond supplying the Taliban weaponry to kill 'allied' forces Russia actually paid Taliban bonuses for doing so.

Again beliefs shape perceptions: pro-Russians will claim Russia is innocent. Some pro-Americans will have a range of perspectives.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

walking back the Russian bounty story until it quietly disappears like it was never even alleged in the first place.

“nobody was saying that.......”

-4 ( +5 / -9 )

Colin Powell suggests media had 'hysterical' reaction to reports on Russian bounty intelligence

Let the Colin Powell bashing begin. Is he voting for Trump?

-5 ( +4 / -9 )

Colin Powell suggests media had 'hysterical' reaction

It's always interesting to notice how media reports can be used, how words can be nicked to make a poster's point.

it got almost hysterical in the first few days."

https://www.foxnews.com/media/colin-powell-media-hysterical-russia-bounties-afghanistan

2 ( +5 / -3 )

The graveyard of empires is well deserved.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Blame Russia for what? I just don't got it, why? Why blaming Russia always!

It was America being unwise in that backwards country for 20 years and even O.B.L. is dead for 10 years, US and NATO troops still there, so who inflicted these losses!

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

As anyone who is not a rabid anti-Trump screwball knew from the start it was just yet another anti-Trump hoax.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

It was reported in the daily intelligence briefings to Trump but the info was unverified.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

The United States believes Russia has given support to Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan in the past but DOES NO HAVE intelligence to confirm it directed attacks against Americans or to corroborate that it paid bounties to kill American troops, the top U.S. general said on Thursday.

The remarks by Army General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, were under oath to Congress after lawmakers emerged from a separate classified briefing about U.S. intelligence that Russia MAY HAVE PAID the Taliban to kill American troops.

It appears that the NY Times once again ran an unvetted story (aka rumor), and the usual suspects hyped that rumor for all of the political points they could hope for. Certainly was exciting while it lasted.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Seeing as the US and Russia are involved in at least one proxy war, the news that at least one other is taking place is not surprising.

Frankly, neither country should be there. It's best for all if they go home or cancel each other out.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Blame Russia for what? I just don't got it, why? Why blaming Russia always!

Look at the Assadist alliance and just how much backing Russia give to them in Syria. Look at Russia downing jets over Europe. Russia poisoning spies and innocent citizens in the UK. Russia disposing of its critics, investigative journalists and political opponents over the last few decades.

That's why.

It was America being unwise in that backwards country for 20 years and even O.B.L. is dead for 10 years, US and NATO troops still there, so who inflicted these losses!

It's oddly amusing to see Americans call other countries backwards.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

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