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article imageNo confirmation yet of Russia paying bounties to kill US troops

By Ken Hanly     Sep 14, 2020 in Politics
No links have been found that would verify the claim that Russia offered the Taliban bounties to kill US troops in Afghanistan.
CENTCOM commander confirms lack of proof
Months after the New York TImes reported that Russia secretly offered bounties to the Taliban for killing US troops in Afghanistan, General Frank McKenzie commander of the US Central Command (CENTCOM) said that a detailed review of all available intelligence found no corroboration evidence for the story. McKenzie told NBC News:“It just has not been proved to a level of certainty that satisfies me. We continue to look for that evidence. I just haven’t seen it yet.”
McKenzie's remarks mirror those of several other top US military officials shortly after the Times report.
Another anonymous military intelligence officials told NBC News that after intelligence of attacks on US forces in Afghanistan over the last several years were reviewed none had been found with links to any Russian bounty payments.
In contrast to the lack of confirmation of the bounty reports many Democrats and other Trump critics including Joe Biden the Democratic presidential nominee nearly accept the bounty narrative as fact. Biden has even cited the bounties in attacks on Trump
US Secretary of State and General Mark Milley
US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper took the position back in June that the Pentagon had no "corroborating evidence" for the Times report. In a July hearing before the US House Armed Services Committee Esper said that all US defense intelligence agencies had been unable to corroborate the Times report. In the same hearing General Mark Milley Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff took the same position as Esper. Both said they would keep investigating the intelligence but now two months later have found no evidence to back the claim that Russia paid bounties for killing US soldiers in Afghanistan.
US intelligence agencies
The National Security Agency (NSA) strongly disagreed with the TImes' claim. In July the National Intelligence Council produced a memo showing that the NSA had low confidence in the Russian bounty report. Intelligence agencies rate confidence levels in reports as high, moderate and low. The same Council memo show that the CIA gave the confidence level as moderate still not that positive.
More about US in Afghanistan, US Russian relations, Afghan war
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