Russia working with Taliban to 'expedite' US pullout from Afghanistan, Pentagon claims
Iran Press TV
Wednesday, 01 July 2020 9:36 PM
The Pentagon has claimed that Russia has been working with Taliban and the Afghan government to "expedite" the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan.
The US Defense Department made the allegation in a semiannual report to Congress released Wednesday.
"Russia very likely continues to support U.S.-Taliban reconciliation efforts in the hope that reconciliation will prevent a long-term U.S. military presence," read the report. "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 US military withdrawal, and address security challenges that might arise from a withdrawal."
The report was released amid pressure mounting on the White House over allegations that a Russian intelligence unit offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants to kill US troops in Afghanistan.
The report also alleged that Russia "has politically supported the Taliban to cultivate influence with the group, limit the Western military presence, and encourage counter ISIS operations, although Russia publicly denies their involvement."
Trump 'weak-kneed' against Putin
President Donald Trump has been evading criticism, alleging that he was not briefed on the intelligence.
Some Republican lawmakers have come out in support of the president, calling the reports "inaccurate" or based on "unverified" intelligence.
"Every single member, Republican and Democrat alike, of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence is aware, should have been aware of the intelligence that I was briefed on. It's long been available," said Indiana GOP Senator Todd Young.
Democrats, meanwhile, have taken the chance to attack Trump, with Senate minority leader calling Trump "weak-kneed" against Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"If in fact Putin and his cronies have been sponsoring the murder of American and coalition forces in Afghanistan, there is no question that there should be swift and severe consequences," Schumer claimed on the Senate floor. "But unlike every previous administration I've ever worked with, the Trump administration has been shockingly weak-kneed when it comes to authoritarian leaders like Putin."
Moscow lambasted the allegations as a bunch of "lies" on Monday.
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