New York – June 30: Donald Trump’s tenure has been haunted by Russia, already weakened in recent times by anti-racist protests and the growing coronavirus crisis in the United States.
The American president has a new subject of tension, revelations from the New York Times, about Russian bonuses offered to fighters “close to the Taliban” to kill American soldiers in Afghanistan.
According to the New York Times, Russia paid the Taliban to target American soldiers in Afghanistan. Was Donald Trump aware or was this information voluntarily withheld from him? This is now the whole question.
In an article published on June 26, the American daily, then supported by the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal said by quoting anonymous officials that the Russian military intelligence (GRU) had discreetly distributed money to Islamist fighters “close to the Taliban” to kill western soldiers in Afghanistan.
Twenty soldiers belonging to the American troops were killed in Afghanistan in 2019, recalls the New York Times, which specifies that the circumstances of their death are not always established.
If these claims were true, it would mark a renewed tension between the United States and the Taliban, which signed a historic agreement in February 2020, in which the Taliban pledged to cease their attacks on foreign troops in return a gradual withdrawal of these from Afghanistan before the spring of 2021.
More importantly, it would throw a chill over Russian-American relations, which had improved to the point that Donald Trump recently took a position to bring Moscow into the G7.
Denials From All Sides
In unison, the actors involved in this file denied the media reports.
The Russian Embassy in the United States has summoned the New York Times to “stop fabricating false information” and asked the American authorities to “take effective measures” to ensure the safety of its employees who were threatened after the publication of the article.
The Taliban, who have faced Afghan power and foreign troops since being ousted from power in 2001 by an international coalition led by the United States, has also strongly denied.
“The holy war waged for 19 years by the Islamic Emirate owes nothing to the benefits of any intelligence service or a foreign country,” say they in a statement issued in Kabul.
They also stress that they remain committed to the agreement signed with the United States, even if they continue their operations against the Afghan forces, to which Washington then continues to help by intervening on the ground.
No American soldier has been killed since the end of March, according to the Pentagon.
After these revelations, Mike Pompeo met on Monday, June 29 with the number two of the Taliban. Secretary of State “made clear to the Taliban that they were expected to fulfill their commitments, including not to attack Americans,” US diplomacy spokesperson said in a statement. In Kabul, the Taliban announced they had renewed this engagement.
Is This Matter Bothering Trump & His Administration?
According to the NYT, Donald was made aware of the existence of these “Russian premiums” as early as last February.
The AP news agency reports that John Bolton, the controversial ex-advisor to Donald Trump and who has just released a book against him, allegedly submitted initial information on this dossier to the president in March 2019.
What Donald Trump formally denies. “Nobody briefed me, or briefed vice president Mike Pence or chief of staff Mark Meadows about so-called attacks on our troops in Afghanistan by the Russians,” assured the American president in a tweet morning Sunday.
But this denial did not convince his Democratic opponents and the case is taking on such a scale that a group of elected Republicans and Democrats was invited Monday, June 29 to the White House to be kept informed on this matter.
Beyond the bonuses themselves, the questions relate mainly to the United States on the management by the White House of this explosive file, because, if Donald Trump has not really been informed, it is still necessary to know why his entourage ruled that the commander-in-chief should not be perfumed?
On Sunday evening, Donald Trump partially answered this question, declaring that the secret services had not considered this information sufficiently “credible” to let him know. “There is no consensus on these claims within the intelligence community,” said White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany on Monday.
But after suspicions of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, the American political class, viscerally anti-Russian, quickly took hold of this new dossier, the Democrats seeing it as a new attempt by the American president to get into the right graces of Vladimir Putin.
Thus, faced with the president who insists that “no one has been harder with Russia than the Trump administration, the Democratic President of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi estimated that with Donald Trump,“ all roads lead to Putin ”, Accusing the American president of“licking the boots” of his Russian counterpart.
His colleague Adam Schiff, head of the House Intelligence Committee, expressed “concerns” to him that there may be “reluctance to inform the president about things he doesn’t want to hear”. “And this is perhaps even more true concerning Putin and Putin’s Russia”, according to him.” Many of us do not understand his affinity for this autocratic leader who wants to harm our nation.”
Beyond Trump’s possible interests in this affair, Democrats and Republicans have also called for more information on the existence or not of these “Russian bonuses”.