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Russia Denies Supplying Weapons to Taliban

Russia Denies Supplying Weapons to Taliban

Thursday, 2 July, 2020 - 15:15
Members of the Taliban stand at a location in Ghazni province, Afghanistan, April 18, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer/File Photo
Asharq Al-Awsat

Russia's Foreign Ministry said Thursday that Moscow has never delivered weapons to the Taliban movement in Afghanistan, rejecting a claim by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

“Russia has only supplied weapons to the legitimate government of Afghanistan, which is well known,” Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said at a briefing.

On Wednesday, Pompeo said that "the Russians have been selling small arms that have put Americans at risk there for 10 years.”

He added: "When I meet with my Russian counterparts, I talk with them about this each time: ‘Stop this.’”

Russia, which has long been critical of the US-led operation in Afghanistan, welcomed February's peace deal between the US and the Taliban aimed at ending the protracted war.

Zakharova didn't comment Thursday on reports that Moscow offered bounties for killing US troops in Afghanistan, but other Russian officials have denounced them as fake.

US congressional leaders will seek more information from top intelligence officials on the reported Russian payments.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the top elected Democrat, said the US must immediately impose sanctions on Russia.

"To see this possible threat, this bounty on our soldiers be treated so lightly, without investigation and the rest, is so inappropriate. It is dereliction of duty," she said in an interview with MSNBC on Wednesday evening.

Earlier this week, Zamir Kabulov, a top Russian diplomat who serves as Russian President Vladimir Putin’s representative on Afghanistan, described the bounty allegations as a reflection of the US political infighting, and charged that they could have been spread by “forces that don’t want to leave Afghanistan and are willing to justify their failure.”

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