Washington Post: Russian rewards to Taliban fighters believed to be causing US troops to die, according to intelligence assessments


Several people familiar with the matter told the Post that it is unclear how many US troops may have died as a result of the rewards.

CNN previously reported that Russian intelligence officers from the military intelligence agency GRU recently offered money to Taliban militants in Afghanistan as a reward if they killed American or British troops there, according to a European intelligence official. The official told CNN that the incentives offered by the Russians had led, in his assessment, to victims of the Coalition, which would be the deaths or injuries of service members. The official did not specify the date of the victims, their number or nationality, or if they were fatalities or injuries.
As early as February and March there was discussion in the US intelligence community and among top military commanders about the Russian operation to assess intelligence and what exactly was happening, a US official told CNN on Sunday. There were some efforts to protect US forces due to intelligence, the source said, too.
The New York Times first reported on Friday that US intelligence concluded months ago that Russian military intelligence offered the rewards, amid peace talks. President Donald Trump received information about the intelligence findings, and the White House National Security Council held a meeting on the matter in late March, according to the New York Times, citing informed officials on the matter.
Trump, however, denied receiving intelligence information that the Russians had attempted to bribe Taliban fighters to kill US troops.

The president tweeted Sunday that “there have not been many attacks” against US soldiers by Taliban fighters as evidence that the reported intelligence may be “false.”

Her tweet was a step beyond a White House statement Saturday in which press secretary Kayleigh McEnany did not deny the report’s validity, instead saying that Trump and Vice President Mike Pence were not informed “about the alleged intelligence. of Russian reward. “

The Russian embassy in Washington, DC, denounced the Times report on Friday as “unfounded allegations” that have led to death threats against Russian diplomats in Washington and London. The Taliban also rejected the report.

There have been more than 2,400 total deaths of US service members since the start of the longest US war in 2001. Last year was the deadliest in five years for the United States in Afghanistan, with 23 service members killed during operations in the country in 2019.

This story has been updated with additional background.

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