Intelligence Community Casts Doubt On Russian Bounties On US Coalition Troops

Afghanistan

Accusations between Russia and the U.S. have been flying for many years. From accusations of election tampering to collusion with the Taliban. However, many of these accusations have yet to be proven.

Still Lacking Proof

One of the biggest points contention is the allegation from last summer that Russia may have paid the Taliban to kill U.S. troops who were in Afghanistan.

According to the New York Times, the Trump Administration never gave the news much credence and consistently swept it aside. In July, Defense Secretary Mark Esper stated in a hearing with the House Armed Services Committee that there is no supporting evidence for those reports.

“It is the opinion of a number of intelligence entities, agencies, that could not corroborate the report,” Esper said.

He also said that the Russians are known to cooperate with the Taliban, but they believed the bounties to be a work of fiction.

Intelligence Agencies are Luke Warm

According to a senior administration official, “The United States intelligence community assesses with low to moderate confidence that Russian intelligence officers sought to encourage Taliban attacks against U.S. coalition personnel in Afghanistan in 2019, including through financial incentives and compensation.”

In early 2019, White House officials knew the possibility of the bounties existed. However, they did not tell President Trump since they did not have any confirmation.

U.S. Central Command boss Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie did not find it to have any merit. McKenzie said, “I found it very worrisome. I didn’t find that there was a causative link there.” However, it has been confirmed in the past that Russia supports the Taliban by giving them weapons and various other resources.

Current U.S. Sanctions Against Russia

Recently, the Biden administration announced that the U.S. would be placing sanctions against Russia for other offenses like election interference and hacking.

As McKenzie said in June, ” We should always remember, the Russians are not our friends. They are not our friends in Afghanistan. And they do not wish us well, and we just need to remember that at all times when we evaluate that intelligence.”

As it stands right now, the Biden administration plan to reduce the number of troops in the region by 2,500. The current deadline for this drawdown of troops is September 11th. However, plans have yet to be released.

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