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Russian Money For The Taliban To Fight Against The United States Part Of The Plan To Establish Afghans, Officials Say

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Russian aid presented to the Taliban was part of a grand strategy to seize on U.S. attempts to end a beleaguered war effort in Afghanistan and to help set the stage for future influence there, current Pentagon and former U.S. intelligence officials told Newsweek.

Dismissing the widely tossed-around term “bounty” to refer to the practice of Russia’s Main Directorate, commonly called the Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU), supplying financial assistance to the Taliban in exchange for targeting U.S. troops, those that spoke with Newsweek characterized the actions of Moscow’s elite military espionage unit as part of a wider plan to expedite a U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and to foster working ties with the powerful militant group likely to have a stake in the war-torn country’s future.

“The Russians, long term, want a place in Afghanistan,” a former CIA officer who served in the region and spoke under the condition of anonymity told Newsweek. “They feel by developing relationships with elements within Afghanistan, with the government, with the Taliban, with the various Taliban forces in the country, they want a footprint in that country.”

“It makes sense to give them money, it makes sense to develop political capital that you can leverage, because that’s good foreign policy,” the former CIA officer said.

U.S. Army Rangers conduct combat operations in support of NATO-led Operation Resolute Support in Southeast Afghanistan, May 2019.
Sergeant Jaerett Engeseth/U.S. Army

This article has been updated to include an excerpt from a congressionally-mandated Pentagon report regarding Russia’s involvement in Afghanistan.

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