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Video Appears To Show Russia Arming Taliban, Undermining US In Afghanistan

REUTERS/Omar Sobhani

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Saagar Enjeti White House Correspondent

Taliban militants appear to be sporting newly obtained weapons they say are supplied by the Russian government in a videos released by CNN.

The militants say the weapons were given to them across the porous Afghan border in Tajikistan, a Russian allied state. The video validates the concerns of U.S. commanders in charge of the war in Afghanistan, as well as Secretary of Defense James Mattis.

Mattis said the U.S. was “going to have to confront Russia where what they’re doing is contrary to international law,” adding that “any weapons being funneled here from a foreign country would be a violation of international law.”

U.S. military officials say Moscow’s cooperation with the Taliban is conducted under the guise of conducting counter-terrorism operations against the Islamic State.

“Their [Russia’s] narrative goes something like this: that the Taliban are the ones fighting Islamic State, not the Afghan government,” commanding U.S. General in Afghanistan John Nicholson told reporters in a December Pentagon briefing. “This public legitimacy that Russia lends to the Taliban is not based on fact, but it is used as a way to essentially undermine the Afghan government and the NATO effort and bolster the belligerents.”

Nicholson and Mattis’ comments drew the ire of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in April.

“I am confident that those in the United States who are paid for supplying their national leaders with reliable intelligence know only too well that these allegations are untrue,” Lavrov said.

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