A New York Times report last week claimed that Russia may have offered bounties to Afghan militants for killing US troops deployed to the Central Asian country. Both Russia and the Taliban have denied the accusations. The White House also insisted Trump wasn’t briefed on the matter.
The US Department of Defence has no evidence to back up allegations about collusion between Russia and the Taliban, according to Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman.
“The Department of Defense continues to evaluate intelligence that Russian GRU operatives were engaged in malign activity against the United States and coalition forces in Afghanistan,” Hoffman said in a statement.
“To date, the DoD has no corroborating evidence to validate the recent allegations found in open-source reports. Regardless, we always take the safety and security of our forces in Afghanistan — and around the world — most seriously and therefore continuously adopt measures to prevent harm from potential threats.”
On Friday, The New York Times ran an article citing unnamed intelligence officials as claiming that US President Donald Trump had been told about (but did not react to) intelligence that Russia paid Taliban fighters to assassinate coalition troops in Afghanistan amid peace talks with the militant group last year.
Both Russia and the Taliban denied the accusations, which surfaced months after the Trump administration struck a peace deal with the militants that brought an end – at least, formally – to America’s longest war.
Donald Trump maintained that neither he nor Vice President Mike Pence had been briefed on the alleged intelligence.
Nevertheless, the story was immediately weaponised by the Democrats. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who is usually briefed on the most sensitive intelligence as Speaker of the US House of Representatives, said she too hadn’t been informed, and on Monday requested that all members of Congress be briefed on the matter soon.