Russian military intelligence officials offered secret bounties for Taliban-linked militants to assassinate U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan, the New York Times reports.
- Citing anonymous officials, the New York Times reports that a U.S. intelligence assessment had concluded a Russian military intelligence unit reached out to Islamist militants to target U.S. troops operating in the country.
- The Russian unit “has been linked to assassination attempts and other covert operations in Europe intended to destabilize the West or take revenge on turncoats,” as the Times put it.
- President Donald Trump and the White House National Security Council have been aware of the problem since at least March, according to the New York Times report.
- While “Islamist militants, or armed criminal elements closely associated with them, are believed to have collected some bounty money,” it's unclear if any of the 20 U.S. military deaths that occurred in Afghanistan in 2019 were “under suspicion,” the Times reports.
- The timing suggests that the senior U.S. officials were aware of the alleged deal between Russian officials and Taliban-linked militants amid ongoing peace talks with the latter.
- There are currently 8,600 U.S. troops currently operating in Afghanistan, a reduction implemented in line with the U.S. peace deal with the Taliban.