Russia reportedly paid Taliban-linked militants bounty money to kill American troops

Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Ricardo Ceppi / Getty Images
US intelligence officials assessed that Russian intelligence agency was offering bounties to Taliban-related militants to kill NATO troops in Afghanistan, including American forces, a New York Times report said.
Interrogations of Afghan militants and criminals have been reported to reveal that Taliban-related militants have been offered bounties by Russian agents, particularly Unit 29155, a branch of Russia's GRU military intelligence.
According to a theory put forward by some officials, Moscow may have returned the favor after an embarrassing defeat during a battle in Syria in 2018.
President Donald Trump has been informed of the intelligence assessment, but the White House has yet to respond to it, the Times sources said.
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US intelligence officials assessed that Russian military intelligence paid bounty to Taliban militants to kill NATO troops in Afghanistan, including American forces. This emerges from a report in the New York Times on Friday.
US officials discovered bounty information earlier this year. Part of the bounty was raised either by militant Islamists or by related individuals, The Times reported.
According to the Department of Defense, 17 U.S. troops were killed in combat in Afghanistan in 2019.
Interrogations of Afghan militants and criminals revealed that Taliban-related militants were offered bounty by Russian forces, The Times reported. Intelligence officials believe that the bounties will affect Unit 29155, a branch of the GRU’s Russian intelligence agency.
Unit 29155, which is believed to be composed of former Russian special forces, has been held responsible for a number of attacks across Europe, including poisoning the Russian defector Sergei Skripal in 2018.
According to a theory put forward by some officials, Moscow may have returned the favor after an embarrassing defeat during a battle in Syria in 2018. Between 200 and 300 mercenaries from a security company associated with Russia were killed during a four-hour battle at a military base that housed US-led coalition forces.
It is unclear whether the Kremlin has sanctioned the bounties. According to The Times, Russian officials were not aware of the allegations.
President Donald Trump has been informed of the intelligence review, but the White House hasn't responded to it, the Times sources said. The National Security Council had already developed plans to handle the report in March - plans that, according to The Times, included diplomatic complaints or sanctions.
The US armed forces previously accused Russia of providing material aid to the Taliban and undermining US efforts to stabilize the region: "They are clearly acting to undermine our interests," said General, the then U.S. commander in Afghanistan John Nicholson, in 2018.
"We had weapons brought to this headquarters and let ourselves be given by Afghan leaders, and they said this was given to the Taliban by the Russians," he added.
By comparison, the Trump administration has threatened Iran with massive retaliation for the death of a single American and has blamed Iran for complicity in the deaths of 600 US troops in Iraq.
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