The Russian military offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants in Afghanistan last year to kill American and coalition troops, The New York Times reported on Friday, citing unidentified intelligence officials.
The alleged bounties were offered by a Russian military intelligence unit connected to several assassination attempts in Europe. Unidentified officials told the newspaper that President Donald Trump was briefed about the findings at an emergency meeting in March. They added that intelligence officials suggested a range of measures against Russia, including sanctions, but the White House did not approve them.
The White House denied the report on Saturday. “Neither the president nor the vice president were briefed on the alleged Russian bounty intelligence,” White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany was quoted as saying by AFP. “This does not speak to the merit of the alleged intelligence but to the inaccuracy of The New York Times story erroneously suggesting that President Trump was briefed on this matter.”
Russia also dismissed reports that its military intelligence unit offered bounties to kill American troops, Reuters reported, quoting the state-run RIA news agency. “This primitive informational dump clearly demonstrates low intellectual abilities of the propagandists at the American intelligence service,” the country’s foreign ministry said.
The Taliban also denied the claims and said that they were committed the peace accord signed with the United States in February, according to AFP.
On February 29, the US signed two agreements – one with the Taliban, offering to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan if the Taliban take part in peace talks, and another with the Afghan government, about the need for negotiations and an end to violence. The agreement between the US and the Taliban also called for up to 5,000 Taliban prisoners to be released in exchange for up to 1,000 Afghan government captives.
The United States has been involved in negotiations on and off with the Taliban to bring the conflict in the country to an end in exchange for withdrawal for its troops and those of its allies.