Russia is supplying arms to the Taliban, according to the head of US forces in Afghanistan.
General John Nicholson (pictured) told the BBC he had seen “destabilising activity by the Russians, including weapons smuggled across the Tajik border to the Taliban.
“We see a narrative that’s being used that grossly exaggerates the number of Isis [Islamic State group] fighters here,” Gen Nicholson said. “This narrative then is used as a justification for the Russians to legitimise the actions of Taliban and provide some degree of support to the Taliban.
“We’ve had stories written by the Taliban that have appeared in the media about financial support provided by the enemy. We’ve had weapons brought to this headquarters and given to us by Afghan leaders and said, this was given by the Russians to the Taliban,” he continued. “We know that the Russians are involved.”
He said Russia has conducted a series of exercises on the Afghan border with Tajikistan, adding: “These are counter terrorism exercises, but we’ve seen the Russian patterns before: they bring in large amounts of equipment and then they leave some of it behind.”
The implication is that these weapons and other equipment are then smuggled across the border and supplied to the Taliban.
Russia has denied such US allegations in the past, citing a lack of evidence, but the new claims come at a sensitive time with Britain and the EU in dispute with Vladimir Putin over the nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy and his daughter on UK soil.
Meanwhile a US Congressional Intelligence Committee has just published a report concluding that Russian provocateurs meddled in the 2016 Presidential election.