According to a top US Army general, Russia may be arming Taliban militants fighting against the U.S backed Afghani government. U.S. Army General Curtis Scaparrotti told a NATO committee in Europe on Thursday Russian influence had increased in the region, and could potentially extend to the support of the Taliban. “We have seen the influence of Russia of late — an increased influence — in terms of association and perhaps even supply to the Taliban,” Scaparrotti claimed, but gave no further details surrounding how or why this shift in Russian association had occurred. Scaparrotti’s statement echoes that of US Commander General John Nicholson who said in February he believed Russia was interfering in the region. “Russia, Iran, and al Qaeda are playing significant roles in Afghanistan—this wasn’t the case a few years ago- I believe in part to undermine the United States and NATO, and prevent this strong partnership that we have with the Afghans in the region.” Nicholson further added to this statement in an interview with VOA last month, “Russia has been legitimizing the Taliban and supporting the Taliban.”
Russian involvement in Afghanistan dates back to 1979, when Soviet forces invaded to prop up Communist party, the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan. This resulted in a nine year war between Soviet troops and Afghan insurgents. Soviet forces were forced to withdraw between 1987-1989. In 2001, following the New York terror attacks, US President George W. Bush sent troops into Afghanistan to recover Osama Bin Laden, the Al Qaeda leader responsible for the attacks. In 2001, American troops invaded the country and ousted the Taliban from power, replacing them with a new government under
In 2001, following the New York terror attacks, US President George W. Bush sent troops into Afghanistan to recover Osama Bin Laden, the Al Qaeda leader responsible for the attacks. In 2001, American troops invaded the country and ousted the Taliban from power, replacing them with a new government under UN-backed Hamid Karzai. Quickly, after being forced from power, the Taliban reformed as an insurgency, with the purpose of regaining control of Afghanistan. Despite large-scale strategies and attacks, Afghan and international forces have been unable to defeat the Taliban. US estimates suggest the Afghan government controls less than 60% of the country, with the rest in the hands of the insurgents. Russia has been highly critical of the United States’ handling of Afghanistan, criticizing both the US’s presence and withdrawal from the war-torn nation. While a large part of American soldiers have withdrawn from the region, approximately 13,000 NATO troops are currently stationed in Afghanistan, the bulk of them Americans. If Scaparrotti is correct in stating Russia is supplying Taliban insurgents, they would be directly arming US enemies.
However, Russian officials immediately denied any such assistance with the Taliban and further stated any contact with the group was for negotiating purposes. The Taliban confirmed to Reuters it has had significant contact with Moscow since 2007, but was adamant it did not go beyond political and moral support.