The Pentagon has released a report contradicting the statements made by anonymous sources claiming that Russia was working alongside the Taliban.
On June 26 the New York Times released an article that sparked controversy as it made hefty accusations against Russia. The newspaper quoted unnamed governmental sources that claimed Russian Military Units were offering bounties to Taliban combatants to kill NATO American soldiers. Since the announcement, government actors, including the US Authorities, have spoken out to refute this statement.
Following the release of the article, the Russian embassies situated in London and Washington publicly called the New York Times out for spreading fake news. A few days later, the US supported Russia’s stance and released an official statement on June 29th saying that there was no corroborating evidence to validate the recent allegations”.
On Wednesday July 1st the Pentagon released a report debriefing the current situation in Afghanistan. In the document the role and relationship between the US and Russia was clearly described as a conjoint partnership with the purpose of deescalating the tension in the region.
“As of February, the Russian government was working with the central government, regional countries, and the Taliban to gain increased influence in Afghanistan, expedite a U.S. military withdrawal, and address security challenges that might arise from a withdrawal, “stated the report.
Although the briefing did mention that the Russian government has politically involved themselves with Taliban groups, it stated that it was to “cultivate influence with the group, limit the Western military 26 presence, and encourage counter ISIS operations, although Russia publicly denies their involvement”.
The anonymous sources reported by the New York Times also blamed the Trump administration for neglecting and brushing off the intelligence when it was presented. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke out in regards to this and defended the government by saying that they assessed the risk adequately at the time.
At a press conference Pompeo said “We responded in precisely the correct way with respect to making sure that our forces were postured appropriately, that they were aware of the level of the threat, the credibility of the threat, and that we were there”. He continued to state that no further action was taken because the accusations were unverified.