On August 12th, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that he had spoken to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and warned him that there would be “an enormous price to pay” if Moscow is offering bounties to kill U.S. soldiers or other Western troops in Afghanistan.
Pompeo is currently on an official visit in Central Europe.
In an interview with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Pompeo declined to say whether he believed the intelligence was credible or if he thought Trump should have been briefed.
He did say that Washington wouldn’t accept such behavior, which in its own right sounds like an accusation.
“If the Russians are offering money to kill Americans, or for that matter other Westerns as well, there will be an enormous price to pay. That’s what I shared with foreign minister Lavrov,” Pompeo said in the interview, conducted during his official visit to the Czech Republic.
“I know our military has talked to their senior leaders as well. We won’t brook that, we won’t tolerate,” Pompeo said.
The biggest mystery is – why would Moscow pay bounties for the heads of US and other Western soldiers, if the Taliban appear to be doing it for free, regardless.
Meanwhile, Russian state outlet RIA published an interview with Suheil Shahin, who is an official representative of the Taliban’s political office.
Shahin spoke of the story of accusations that Russia allegedly tried to hire the Taliban to kill American troops in Afghanistan.
He also spoke of whether the Russians supply the Taliban with weapons, and where they actually get their weapons from.
Furthermore, he spoke on the progress of the implementation of the agreement with the United States, when the complete withdrawal of American troops can be expected.
In addition, Shahin shared his vision of the prospects for the peace process in Afghanistan, the role of Russia in this, expressed his opinion about what is hindering progress.
Following are directly translated quotes from the interview:
“QUESTION: There are now accusations in the US that Russia allegedly tried to bribe the Taliban members to kill American servicemen. Could you please clarify the situation? Could this have happened in principle?
ANSWER: First of all, I would like to state that these statements are unfounded. There is not a word of truth in them. And such publications themselves are part of the campaign launched by opponents of the peace process in Afghanistan. They simply want to harm the peace process.
This erroneous and baseless information was passed on by the Kabul Department of Homeland Security to some American and European journalists in order to sabotage the peace process. There is nothing in these publications that has anything to do with reality, it is just a campaign against the peace process. And we completely reject all of these claims.”
According to him, the claims are entirely Kabul-sponsored propaganda, since the Afghanistan government is presumably dissatisfied with having to release Taliban prisoners and comply with a US-Taliban peace deal.
“QUESTION: Did the American special services contact the Taliban in order to obtain information on this case? Has the Taliban agreed to cooperate with them in this?
ANSWER: The American side hasn’t asked us about this, because they know that it is not true, that it is fake. Now we have a channel of communication for the military, and if any violations occur, we inform them. We send statements, they do the same. But on this particular topic, they did not ask us.”
So, he denied that there has even been an official inquiry in whether such a thing took place, it is simply left to circulate media with a vague accusation surfacing regularly, such as the one from Pompeo.
“QUESTION: Russia is also accused of supplying arms to the Taliban. Could you provide a comment on these statements? And if they are not true, where do the Taliban get their weapons from?
ANSWER: I reject this statement; it is not true. We maintain relations with the Russian Federation, but we are talking about political relations. Our political office (the one in Doha) maintains relations both with Russia and with neighboring countries and regions. But only at the political level. We are not talking about military relations, and we categorically reject such considerations. They can also be considered part of a campaign to harm the peace process. As for the weapons we have, we have stocks of weapons in Afghanistan, and we also buy weapons from the Kabul administration – from the army. Somehow there were reports that hundreds of thousands of weapons were missing or stolen from them. So we bought this weapon from them. We also seized a lot in the clashes. So we have a lot of ammunition. And all this was received from the Kabul administration.”
The missing weapons were apparently either seized or sold from Kabul to the Taliban, and it turns out that there’s no need for Russia to supply any weapons behind the scenes.
All of these questions could’ve been asked by the US representatives in the active negotiations that presumably still take place between the Taliban and the Americans, however, they haven’t been asked.
MORE ON THE TOPIC:
- Military Situation In Afghanistan On August 11, 2020 (Map Update)
- Afghan Officials Acknowledge Escape Of Over 300 Prisoners, Many Islamic State Militants
- Taliban Flag Unfurled Inside Hagia Sophia Mosque