American intelligence officials have reached out to the New York Times and shared that they concluded that a Russian military intelligence unit secretly offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants to target and kill American troops amid the ongoing peace talks going on there to end the long-running war there.
Months ago, the United States concluded that the Russian unit intended to destabilize the West or take revenge on turncoats had also covertly offered rewards for successful attacks on U.S. soldiers last year.
Islamic militants are believed to have collected bounty money, the officials told the Times. Twenty Americans were killed in combat in Afghanistan in 2019, but it has not been made clear if these killings are currently under suspicion.
Donald Trump was briefed on the intelligence findings and the White House’s National Security Council discussed the problem at an interagency meeting back in March, the intelligence officials said. Reportedly officials developed a menu of potential options, which included making a diplomatic complaint to Moscow and demand that the situation stop. So far, the White House has not authorized any type of response the officials say.
Dmitry Peskov, the press secretary for Vladimir Putin, recently stated that the Kremlin had not been aware of these accusations. “If someone makes them, we’ll respond,” Peskov said.
The officials that are familiar with the intelligence did not explain the White House delay in deciding how to respond to the intelligence about Russia. It is well known that Trump has adopted a much more accommodating stance toward Moscow.
Back in 2018 during a summit in Helsinki, Trump stated that he believed Putin’s denial that the Kremlin interfered in the 2016 presidential election. Trump made this statement despite his own intelligence community establishing that the Kremlin had interfered.
The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity and stated that the intelligence has been treated as a secret, but that this week the administration expanded briefings about it late last week sharing intelligence information with the British government whose forces are said to have been targeted as well.
On Sunday Trump used Twitter to deny even being briefed on the situation. “Nobody briefed or told me, @VPPence, or Chief of Staff @MarkMeadows about the so-called attacks on our troops in Afghanistan by Russians, as reported through an “anonymous source” by the Fake [email protected] Everybody is denying it & there have not been many attacks on us…..”
In a second post, Trump tweeted, “…Nobody’s been tougher on Russia than the Trump Administration. With Corrupt Joe Biden & Obama, Russia had a field day, taking over important parts of Ukraine – Where’s Hunter? Probably just another phony Times hit job, just like their failed Russia Hoax. Who is their “source”?
Joe Biden blasted Trump over the weekend stating that if reports are true, it contains a “truly shocking revelation” about Trump and his failure to protect US troops in Afghanistan and stand up to Russia.
“The truly shocking revelation that, if the Times report is true, and I emphasize that again, is that President Trump, the commander in chief of American troops serving in a dangerous theatre of war, has known about this for months, according to the Times, and done worse than nothing,” Biden said during a virtual town hall.
Biden went on to pledge retaliation if he becomes president.
“If I’m elected president, make no mistake about it, Vladimir Putin will be confronted and we’ll impose serious costs on Russia,” Biden said.
Russia has called the report “nonsense.”