According to a new bombshell report published by the New York Times on Friday, President Donald Trump was briefed that Russia was secretly offering bounties for the killing of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, but he refused to authorize any response to the Russian aggression against US service members.
Citing “officials briefed on the matter,” the newspaper reported that “American intelligence officials concluded that a Russian military intelligence unit secretly offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants for killing coalition forces in Afghanistan — including targeting American troops — amid the peace talks to end the long-running war there.”
The Times explained that US officials “concluded months ago that the Russian unit, which has been linked to assassination attempts and other covert operations in Europe intended to destabilize the West or take revenge on turncoats, had covertly offered rewards for successful attacks last year.” It added that “Islamist militants, or armed criminal elements closely associated with them, are believed to have collected some bounty money, the officials said. Twenty Americans were killed in combat in Afghanistan in 2019, but it was not clear which killings were under suspicion.”
The newspaper reports that Trump was offered options to respond, but refused to take action.
“The intelligence finding was briefed to President Trump, and the White House’s National Security Council discussed the problem at an interagency meeting in late March, the officials said. Officials developed a menu of potential options — starting with making a diplomatic complaint to Moscow and a demand that it stop, along with an escalating series of sanctions and other possible responses, but the White House has yet to authorize any step, the officials said,” the newspaper explained. “Any involvement with the Taliban that resulted in the deaths of American troops would also be a huge escalation of Russia’s so-called hybrid war against the United States, a strategy of destabilizing adversaries through a combination of such tactics as cyberattacks, the spread of fake news and covert and deniable military operations.”
President Vladimir Putin’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, said the United States had not raised the issue.
“If someone makes them, we’ll respond,” Peskov said of the accusation.
Read the entire report on The New York Times.