General Kenneth “Frank” McKenzie, the commander of the United States Central Command, told reporters on Tuesday that he doubted that the intelligence of Russian bonuses to Taliban fighters had actually resulted in the death of American troops in Afghanistan, saying: “I found this very disturbing, I just didn’t do it didn’t find that there was a causal link there. ”
McKenzie, America’s largest general in the Middle East, told news agencies including the Associated Press and ABC News, “The Intel case has not been proven to me – it has not been proven enough for me to take it to a court of law – and you know that this is often true in the intelligence of the battlefield. ”
Some U.S. intelligence officials said reports that Russia had offered bonuses to Taliban militants for killing U.S. troops were included in an intelligence package for President Trump in late February. The White House, however, denied that Trump was informed at the time, arguing that the information was not credible enough to bring it to his attention.
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McKenzie noted that although he could not find any credible link between the payments and the deaths of American soldiers, the information was not always final.
McKenzie also said that Russia has been a threat in Afghanistan for years, and numerous reports have revealed Russian support for the Taliban forces. But he also noted that whether or not the Taliban receive aid from Russia, they have been and remain a “threat of high protection.”
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“In the past few years, the Taliban have done their best to conduct operations against us, so there has been virtually no change on the ground in terms of force protection,” McKenzie told reporters.
The general explained that tensions between the United States and Russia were high in Afghanistan because of Russia’s defeat there in the 1980s, and that Russia would take any opportunity to “throw sand in our gears “to make life uncomfortable.
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“We must always remember that the Russians are not our friends, they are not our friends and they are not our friends in Afghanistan and they do not wish us good luck,” said McKenzie. “We just have to remember it at all times when we assess this intelligence. ”
Jennifer Griffin of Fox News and the Associated Press contributed to this report.