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Russia Secretly Offered Afghan Militants Bounties to Kill U.S. Troops

observor 69

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Russia Secretly Offered Afghan Militants Bounties to Kill U.S. Troops, Intelligence Says
The Trump administration has been deliberating for months about what to do about a stunning intelligence assessment.
By Charlie Savage, Eric Schmitt and Michael Schwirtz
June 26, 2020

WASHINGTON — American intelligence officials have concluded that a Russian military intelligence unit secretly offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants for killing coalition forces in Afghanistan — including targeting American troops — amid the peace talks to end the long-running war there, according to officials briefed on the matter.

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. More at the link.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/26/us/politics/russia-afghanistan-bounties.html

"Rachel " on MSNBC, my go-to show every night, just reported on this news story.

 

CBH99

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MilEME09 posted an article about the same thing just a few mins ago...


Personally, I have my doubts.  But, I'm also well aware I could be wrong.  To me, it just doesn't make much sense to spend scarce Russian rubles on killing American forces in Afghanistan, in the current drawn down state.


-  How would killing a few kids in their early 20's in Afghanistan somehow benefit Russia? 

-  Given the state of their economy, which hasn't been doing all that great, why spend $$ on killing a few American forces in a country the Americans are already trying to wind their way out of?

-  What goal or objective would there be?  The Americans don't have anywhere near the presence they used to, and are actively withdrawing small units and elements as they can.  Most are there in an advisory role as it is.

-  Pakistan already provides the Taliban with intelligence and weapons via the ISI.  (While some of those weapons may have been procured via Russia, my guess is they were procured mostly via China)



Russia doesn't have much to lose economically, as it's already extremely sanctioned to the point where I don't think the west could really punish them with any further sanctions. 

The only possible benefit I could see, potentially, would be Russian state-owned companies moving in to set up operations in Afghanistan for the extraction of rare Earth minerals, or secondly oil & gas.  (If those were so easy to access, I imagine American companies would have been there ages ago.) 

^ I don't see any companies moving in to secure or extract oil & gas, rare Earth minerals, etc etc from any country. 




So while I don't doubt that it's possible the Russian intelligence services put rewards on killing American forces in Afghanistan, I don't see any real benefit to them doing so. 

Any American service members killed would immediately be replaced.  It's not like they are waging a war of attrition against a military that can't generate replacements.



That's just my un-informed 0.02.  Curious to hear thoughts from others here  :2c:
 

blacktriangle

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I suppose if you wanted to keep an adversary engaged on a particular front rather than have them shift their focus & resources elsewhere...



 

Colin Parkinson

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The US has access to Russian contractors in Syria and likely Libya, if they have rock solid evidence, destroy some of their aircraft in Libya and contractors in Syria and send a quiet message via intelligence agencies "Don't ever pay bounties on our guys again". The Russians respect strength and direct consequences.
 

CBH99

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Colin P said:
The US has access to Russian contractors in Syria and likely Libya, if they have rock solid evidence, destroy some of their aircraft in Libya and contractors in Syria and send a quiet message via intelligence agencies "Don't ever pay bounties on our guys again". The Russians respect strength and direct consequences.


Wasn't it in Syria the Wagner Group got a little...thinned out??  ;)
 

brihard

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CBH99 said:
Wasn't it Syria the Wagner Group for a little...thinned out??  ;)

Yup, they sure were that.

Something to consider- when we think of 'bounties' paid for killing Americans, in the context of Afghanistan that's probably pretty dirt cheap. It doesn't take much cash there to be a life changing amount. Vlad wouldn't have to put much in for whatever he expects to get out of it.
 

tomahawk6

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The same unit also put bounties on UK troops.

https://www.stripes.com/russian-operation-targeted-coalition-troops-in-afghanistan-intelligence-finds-1.635435

A Russian military spy unit offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants to attack coalition forces in Afghanistan, including U.S. and British troops, in a striking escalation of the Kremlin's hostility toward the United States, American intelligence has found.

The Russian operation, first reported by the New York Times, has generated an intense debate within the Trump administration about how best to respond to a troubling new tactic by a nation that most U.S. officials regard as a potential foe but that President Donald Trump has frequently embraced as a friend, said the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive intelligence matter.
 

CBH99

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Brihard said:
Yup, they sure were that.

Something to consider- when we think of 'bounties' paid for killing Americans, in the context of Afghanistan that's probably pretty dirt cheap. It doesn't take much cash there to be a life changing amount. Vlad wouldn't have to put much in for whatever he expects to get out of it.


Good call.  I guess the word 'bounty' had me thinking a bit bigger.  Not big, but bigger  ;)
 

The Bread Guy

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Colin P said:
The US has access to Russian contractors in Syria and likely Libya, if they have rock solid evidence, destroy some of their aircraft in Libya and contractors in Syria and send a quiet message via intelligence agencies "Don't ever pay bounties on our guys again". The Russians respect strength and direct consequences.
Checks the right boxes that. 

It could also be a bit of chicken-and-egg, too - from the S&S version ...
... While Moscow's motives for alleged bounties were not immediately clear, officials said they might include retaliation for the U.S. military's 2018 killing of Russian mercenary troops working for Yevgeniy Prigozhin, an oligarch with links to Russian President Vladimir Putin, in Syria, or simply, as one official put it, an attempt to "muddy the negotiations on Afghanistan by throwing a stick in that." ...
 

tomahawk6

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If this is a current Russian program the President may retaliate if its not then that should end matters. When the Russians were in Afghanistan and we aided the rebels some Russians died as a result.
 

Pelorus

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tomahawk6 said:
If this is a current Russian program the President may retaliate if its not then that should end matters. When the Russians were in Afghanistan and we aided the rebels some Russians died as a result.

Considering that Trump was reportedly briefed about this issue in March, and unilaterally called for readmitting Russia to the G7 a few short months later, I personally have my doubts.
 

CBH99

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tomahawk6 said:
If this is a current Russian program the President may retaliate if its not then that should end matters. When the Russians were in Afghanistan and we aided the rebels some Russians died as a result.


Good point though.  Truly.

Somehow I doubt Putin or Trump will look at it historically and say "Ya know, tit for tat.  Fair enough."


Throwing sticks in the plans of each other...
 

Cloud Cover

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As a state sponsored distraction, ordering random killings of US personnel doesn’t do much of anything. Afghans have been doing that for free for 19 years. They never seemed to me to be the type that would do any favours for the Soviets.

More horrifying, and this would definitely throw the US into a right proper foaming mess would be capturing or kidnapping some personnel, killing a few and keeping the rest as slaves, like the Muj and the Chechens did with a few Russians (apparently - I don’t have a reference but there used to be a YouTube Indy video about it). That would definitely distract and probably consume most of the focus of an administration, or even several administrations.
 

brihard

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CloudCover said:
As a state sponsored distraction, ordering random killings of US personnel doesn’t do much of anything. Afghans have been doing that for free for 19 years. They never seemed to me to be the type that would do any favours for the Soviets.

More horrifying, and this would definitely throw the US into a right proper foaming mess would be capturing or kidnapping some personnel, killing a few and keeping the rest as slaves, like the Muj and the Chechens did with a few Russians (apparently - I don’t have a reference but there used to be a YouTube Indy video about it). That would definitely distract and probably consume most of the focus of an administration, or even several administrations.

That would indeed be a disaster.

This issue is gaining more political traction in the US presently- narrative being 'Trump knew and did nothing but invite Russia back into G7' versus 'Trump and Pence were never told about this'. Only one of these can be true. It would be interesting to know whether the President or his inner circle were ever made away of this alleged hostile action by Russia. I think we can expect a lot of angry political noises over this in the coming week.
 

tomahawk6

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Trump says he wasnt briefed.

https://www.foxnews.com/politics/trump-pushes-back-on-ny-times-report-on-russian-afghan-attacks-says-nobody-briefed-him-pence
 

brihard

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tomahawk6 said:
Trump says he wasnt briefed.

https://www.foxnews.com/politics/trump-pushes-back-on-ny-times-report-on-russian-afghan-attacks-says-nobody-briefed-him-pence

He says lots of things. Unfortunately, particularly when it can have a significant political impact on him, he has long lost any claim to inherent, uncorroborated credibility, as has his inner circle. Some congressional leaders are already looking into this. We’ll see what fruit is borne.
 

Jarnhamar

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[quote author=Brihard]particularly when it can have a significant political impact on him, he has long lost any claim to inherent, uncorroborated credibility,
[/quote]
Forget political impact, I wouldn't trust President Trump giving someone the time of day.

If the allegations are true it could be (should be) a pretty big deal. Thing is with people so obsessed with Trump and his mistakes I fear the emphasis will be on making him look bad in another "a ha!" moment rather than the fact a Russian spy unit was paying bounties on US troops.

 

Colin Parkinson

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Brihard said:
He says lots of things. Unfortunately, particularly when it can have a significant political impact on him, he has long lost any claim to inherent, uncorroborated credibility, as has his inner circle. Some congressional leaders are already looking into this. We’ll see what fruit is borne.

Saying he was not briefed is a way to avoid the need to deal with this. He may be unofficially aware of it, but as long as he is not "Officially briefed" then he is not under any obligation to act.
 

Bruce Monkhouse

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Really??  Why would this be any kind of shocking news??  I'm sure nothing has changed in the Spy vs Spy world since the fifties.
 

tomahawk6

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Actually what proof has been provided to support the NYT assertion ? It wouldnt be their first fake news article ?
 
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