National Security

US General: Russian Aid To Taliban In Afghanistan Is Increasing

REUTERS/Omar Sobhani.

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Russ Read Pentagon/Foreign Policy Reporter
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Russian aid to the Taliban is increasing, according to the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, hampering U.S. interests in the country.

Gen. John Nicholson warned of Russia’s malignant influence while testifying before the Senate Committee on Armed Services about the state of the joint U.S.-NATO support mission in Afghanistan. Nicholson added that he believes Russia’s involvement in Afghanistan is meant to undermine U.S. and NATO interests. The Kremlin is attempting to legitimize the Taliban by claiming the terrorist group is fighting the Islamic State branch in Afghanistan known as the Islamic State in Khorasan, he explained.

“Russia has become more assertive over the past year, overtly lending legitimacy to the Taliban to undermine NATO efforts and bolster belligerents using the false narrative that only the Taliban are fighting ISIL-K,” said Nicholson in his written statement for the record.

Responding to questions from Florida Sen. Bill Nelson, Nicholson claimed that Russia’s attempts to undermine U.S. interests in Afghanistan started in 2016.

“When did the evidence of them (Russia) cozying up to the Taliban start?” asked Nelson.

“Sir, it started in 2016, so just within the last year, this has started, and it was a gradual progression,” answered Nicholson.

“And is that progression increasing?” Nelson continued.

“Yes sir.” Nicholson replied.

“I think we better let President Trump know that,” added the general.

The general also confirmed that by helping the Taliban, Russia isalso indirectly aiding al-Qaida and other terrorist groups.

“The Taliban are the medium for many of these other terrorists groups to operate,” said Nicholson, stressing that the same relationship does not exist between the Taliban and ISIS, given the two groups are in conflict with each other.

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