Pentagon says Russia working with Taliban to expedite U.S. withdrawal
The Russian government is working with the Afghan government, regional countries, and the Taliban to "gain increased influence in Afghanistan" and "expedite a U.S. military withdrawal," according to a Department of Defense report published Wednesday.
Why it matters: The report was released amid a mounting controversy over allegations that U.S. intelligence assessed that Russian operatives were paying bounties to Taliban-linked militants to kill U.S. troops. President Trump has denied that he was briefed and tweeted Wednesday that the reports are a "Fake News Media Hoax started to slander me & the Republican Party."
What's happening: Despite public denials, Russia has supported the Taliban politically to "cultivate influence with the group, limit the Western military presence, and encourage counter ISIS operations," the Pentagon wrote.
- The report says Russia has supported a U.S.-Taliban agreement "in the hope that reconciliation will prevent a long-term U.S. military presence."
- Russia has also been working to "address security challenges that might arise" from a U.S. troop withdrawal.