The outrage has welcomed media reports that US intelligence officials believe that a Russian military intelligence unit has offered bonuses to militants linked to the Taliban for killing foreign soldiers in Afghanistan, including targeting the Americans.
The story first appeared in the New York Times, citing sources when anonymous officials were informed of the matter, and followed by the Washington Post. Reports indicate that the United States completed the operation several months ago and offered rewards for successful attacks last year.
The Times wrote: “The intelligence findings were shared with Trump, and the White House National Security Council discussed the problem at an interagency meeting in late March. White House officials have apparently developed several possible options for responding to the Kremlin, ranging from a diplomatic reprimand to new sanctions. However, the White House has so far taken no action.
It is unclear whether bonuses were paid for the successful killing of American soldiers.
The news sparked a ferocious reaction from the best Democrats, especially those who have long stressed what they say is Trump’s overly close relationship with Russian autocratic leader Vladimir Putin.
Virginia Senator Tim Kaine, who was Hillary Clinton’s running mate in 2016, said: “Trump was approaching Putin and inviting him to the G7 while his administration knew that Russia was trying to kill American troops in Afghanistan and derail peace talks with the Taliban. “
Michael McFaul, former ambassador to Russia and professor of political science at Stanford University, said: “I hope the American people will be as indignant as I am about Trump’s complacency. After learning about these contracts ordered by Putin to kill American soldiers, Trump invited Putin to the G7. “
John Weaver, a Republican political consultant who helped found the anti-Trump Lincoln Project group, also Express outrage.
Trump knew that Russia was paying premiums on the lives of U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan. He took no action against Putin. Instead, @realDonaldTrump REWARD Putin trying to re-integrate Russia into the G-7. And, not enough, withdraw 25,000 American soldiers from Germany.
– John Weaver (@jwgop) June 27, 2020
The news comes after the United States signed its first peace agreement with the Taliban, which aimed at the complete withdrawal of the US military from the war-torn country in just over a year. The pact was supposed to revive talks between the rebels and the Afghan government, but they failed to materialize.
The unit that US officials have allegedly identified as responsible for the bonuses has also been linked to the poisoning of Sergei Skripal, a former Russian spy, in Britain in 2018, which sparked a huge diplomatic dispute between Moscow and London.
Trump’s relations with Russia have been the source of many scandals and frustrations with American allies, particularly in Europe.
Russia’s attempts to interfere with the 2016 U.S. election were part of the base for Robert Mueller’s investigation, which captured much of Trump’s time in office. He has repeatedly flown in front of his own intelligence briefings to say that he believes Russian denials of interference in American affairs, and has presented his close friendship with Putin as an advantage for the United States. He also lobbied for Russia to be reinstated in the G7 group of major industrial powers, while questioning the role of NATO.