Russia Maybe Tried To Pay Taliban Militants To Kill U.S. Troops, Trump Don't Care
According to the New York Times, the Trump administration has, for months, been aware of an intelligence report concluding that a Russian military intelligence unit offered bounties to Afghan militants in cahoots with the Taliban to kill American soldiers, as part of their plan to destabilize the West. The administration was given this information in late March, and was given a variety of options for dealing with it. Rather than doing any of those things — sending a diplomatic complaint, doing sanctions, etc. — Trump went on about his business, ignored it, and even pushed for Putin and Russia to be let back into the G7.
The United States concluded months ago that the Russian unit, which has been linked to assassination attempts and other covert operations in Europe intended to destabilize the West or take revenge on turncoats, had covertly offered rewards for successful attacks last year.
Islamist militants, or armed criminal elements closely associated with them, are believed to have collected some bounty money, the officials said. Twenty Americans were killed in combat in Afghanistan in 2019, but it was not clear which killings were under suspicion.
The official spokesman for the Taliban, Zabihullah Mujahid, says that this none of this is true, and if you can't trust the Taliban to tell the truth, who can you?
An operation to incentivize the killing of American and other NATO troops would be a significant and provocative escalation of what American and Afghan officials have said is Russian support for the Taliban, and it would be the first time the Russian spy unit was known to have orchestrated attacks on Western troops.
Any involvement with the Taliban that resulted in the deaths of American troops would also be a huge escalation of Russia's so-called hybrid war against the United States, a strategy of destabilizing adversaries through a combination of such tactics as cyberattacks, the spread of fake news and covert and deniable military operations.
The Kremlin had not been made aware of the accusations, said Dmitry Peskov, the press secretary for President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia. "If someone makes them, we'll respond," Mr. Peskov said.
If you were to think "Oh boy, Trump supporters will hate this and probably turn on him because of it! This is really gonna be the thing that turns them all around! After all, they love the troops!" though, you would be totally wrong about that. The general response so far has been "Well that seems fine, actually." That will be their response, to everything, from now until the end of time.
Absolutely none of this is surprising. War is dirty, and this is the kind of fucked-up shit that happens in war. That's why we shouldn't even be there to begin with. Trump does not talk about it or care, because it is not in his interest to talk about it or care. It is in his interest to not care, to continue his bromance with Putin and to not ever bring this kind of thing up. If he, or anyone, actually cared about "the troops," there would not be any troops there for these people to pay Afghan soldiers to bump off, period.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse