AFP, WASHINGTON and MOSCOW
US intelligence has concluded that a Russian unit offered rewards to Taliban-linked militants to kill troops of the US-led coalition in Afghanistan, the New York Times reported on Friday.
The newspaper, citing anonymous officials, said that US President Donald Trump was briefed on the findings in March, but has not decided how to respond.
Militants were believed to have collected bounty money, but it was unclear whether specific killings of US troops were under suspicion, the New York Times reported.
The newspaper quoted a Kremlin spokesman as saying only that Russia was unaware of the accusations.
It said that there were different theories on why Russia would support Taliban attacks, including a desire to keep the US bogged down in war.
The Russian unit might also be seeking revenge over the US killing of Russian mercenaries in Syria, where Moscow backs Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, it said.
The Taliban operation was led by a unit known as the GRU, which has been blamed for numerous international incidents, including a 2018 chemical weapons attack in Britain that nearly killed Russian-born double agent Sergei Skripal, the newspaper reported.
Russia yesterday denounced the report.
The “baseless and anonymous accusations” published by the newspaper had “already led to direct threats to the life of employees of the Russian Embassies in Washington D.C. and London,” the Russian embassy in Washington wrote on Twitter.
“Stop producing #fakenews that provoke life threats, @nytimes,” the embassy added in a later tweet.
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