Pentagon says 'no corroborating evidence' of Russian bounties on US troops as media claims increase


The Department of Defense is the latest in the Trump administration to denounce a New York Times report alleging that Russian military spies had placed bounties with the Taliban for the death of U. S. troops.

“The Department of Defense continues to evaluate intelligence that Russian GRU operatives were engaged in malign activity against United States and coalition forces in Afghanistan.  To date, DOD has no corroborating evidence to validate the recent allegations found in open-source reports. Regardless, we always take the safety and security of our forces in Afghanistan – and around the world – most seriously and therefore continuously adopt measures to prevent harm from potential threats,” Chief Pentagon Spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said in a late Monday night statement provided to American Military News.

The statement is the DOD’s first on the alleged intelligence.

The NYT report on Friday, citing “officials close to the matter,” said the Russian military intelligence unit had given the Taliban bounty money for successful attacks on coalition forces. At least some of the U. S. intelligence officials’ findings are based on information extracted from captured Afghan militants, the report said.

The Russian intelligence unit has been linked to previous assassination attempts, as well as destabilization efforts in Europe and revenge attacks. However, it is the first reported instance of Russian intelligence facilitating attacks on U. S. troops.

One attack on U. S. troops that is suspected to have involved Russian bounties took place in April 2019 and resulted in the death of three U.S. Marines, the NYT stated in a follow-up report, citing anonymous sources. The sources told NYT that President Donald Trump received a written briefing on the intelligence on or around February 27 this year.

Anonymous officials also told The Associated Press that Trump was briefed on the matter in March 2019 by then-national security adviser John Bolton.

Trump said on Monday he was never briefed on the alleged intelligence because it was not found to be credible.

In a tweet on Sunday night, Trump said, “Intel just reported to me that they did not find this info credible, and therefore did not report it to me or @VP. Possibly another fabricated Russia Hoax, maybe by the Fake News @nytimesbooks, wanting to make Republicans look... (Read more)

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Submitted 14 days ago

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