Russia denies reports of goon squad unit paid to Taliban for attacking NATO forces

Russia denies reports of goon squad unit paid to Taliban for attacking NATO forces

Russia and the Taliban have condemned a media report claiming that the Russian Military Intelligence Unit had paid Taliban-linked fighters to kill US troops and other members of the NATO coalition operating in Afghanistan.

The New York Times reports that US intelligence officials confirmed several months ago that the award was secretly awarded to Russian unit fighter jets in exchange for successful attacks last year. This was later reported by the Washington Post independently.

Reportedly, Taliban fighters, or elements associated with them, are believed to have collected at least some reward money from the Russians, although it is not known what the plan is.

Russia denied the allegations Saturday with the Russian embassy in Washington, calling the DC "baseless and anonymous".

The tweet said the claims "are already directly jeopardizing the lives of employees of the Russian embassies in Washington DC and London."

Meanwhile, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid denied to the New York Times that the group had "any links with any intelligence agency" and called the report an attempt to discredit the armed group.

"Such deals with the Russian Intelligence Agency are baseless - our targeted assassinations and assassinations are happening years ago, and we did it on our own resources," he said. "It changed after our agreement with the Americans, and their lives are safe and we will not attack them."

Officials told the Times that it was not clear to what extent the Russian Intelligence Unit's plan was authorized by the government or how big it was to achieve.
In 2019, 20 U.S. soldiers were killed in Afghanistan, but there were no reports of Taliban attacks on US positions, as the two countries reached an agreement in February, leaving the United States nearly 20 years apart from a protracted conflict.

Deep implications
US officials have already linked the Russian intelligence unit with the aim of assassination attempts in the east and destabilizing Western powers in Europe, reports say.

However, if the latest allegations are true, the report says it will be the first time the unit has been convicted of attacks on Western troops.

While the US and Afghan governments have previously accused Russia of supporting the Taliban, the accusation signals a large increase in Russian involvement as the Trump administration struggles to end its US presence in the country.

The report said intelligence officials' decision to investigate captured Afghan fighters and people convicted of crimes in the country was at least partly dependent on the decision.

'Casual' to Russia
Anonymous officials told the newspaper that Trump and his National Security Council were briefed in March, but no action has yet been taken in response.

"The Trump administration was told in March, several months ago, including the president, and they have discussed a number of responses, including a diplomatic complaint that led to sanctions, but have yet to take action," reports Al Jazeera's Patti Culhane from Maryland

"Critics say the president has done a great job. He invited Vladimir Putin to the now-abolished G7 summit, and it is creating controversy today," said the financial institution was known as the Group of Seven. The group will meet in the US in September in the event of a delay due to a coronavirus pandemic.

One critic, Senator and former Democratic vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine, tweeted that Trump joined Putin and invited him to the G7, but his administration knew that Russia was killing US troops in Afghanistan and that the Taliban was seeking peace talks.

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