Russia may be actively supplying and aiding the Taliban in Afghanistan, thus expanding the ongoing insurgency in the war-torn country, says the top U.S. general in Europe.
“I’ve seen the influence of Russia of late — increased influence in terms of association and perhaps even supply to the Taliban,” Army Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, commander of European Command, said Thursday to the Senate Committee on Armed Services.
The Russian Foreign Ministry was quick to deny the allegation, calling it “a lie,” according to RIA Novosti.
Scaparrotti’s allegation follows a similar claim made by Army Gen. John Nicholson, the head of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, in February. He noted that the Kremlin had become “more assertive” in Afghanistan last year, and that Russia was attempting to undermine U.S. efforts in the country.
Should the allegations prove true, they would mirror the U.S. strategy against the Russians when the former Soviet Union attempted to occupy Afghanistan in the 1980s. The U.S. actively supported Afghan insurgent forces, known as the Mujahideen, providing them money, arms and eventually the infamous Stinger missile.
As the insurgency campaign continued, Russian losses grew while foreign fighters from predominantly Muslim countries flowed into Afghanistan. Many of these fighters would later become members of al-Qaida and various other terrorist organizations. Russia would eventually withdraw from Afghanistan in disgrace in 1989, after nearly 10 years of fighting. The Soviet Union would fall apart less than two years later.
Scaparrotti’s allegations against Russia came the same day as a report which claimed the U.S.-backed Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) lost Sangin, a particularly violent district within Afghanistan’s notorious Helmand province. Hundreds of U.S. and British forces died fighting for Sangin during the NATO combat mission from 2001 to 2014.
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