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U.S. troops near Kandahar, Afghanistan in 2014. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

U.S. intelligence officials have "low to moderate confidence" in reports that surfaced last year that Russia had offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants for killing U.S. troops stationed in Afghanistan, according to The Guardian.

Why it matters: The news comes as the Biden administration unveiled a spate of sanctions against Russian officials and entities on Thursday. The bounty reports, however, were not a factor in the decision to pass sanctions.

The big picture: According to administration officials, the "low to moderate" rating is due to the fact that the bounty reports originated from "detainee reporting and because of the difficult operating environment in Afghanistan," per the Guardian.

The accompanying fact sheet the administration released regarding the sanctions notes that the administration is "responding" to the bounty reports, but that the issue will be dealt with through "diplomatic, military and intelligence channels."

What they're saying: "The safety and well-being of U.S. military personnel, and that of our allies and partners, is an absolute priority of the United States," the fact sheet states.

Go deeper

Updated Apr 14, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Biden says the U.S. will begin Afghanistan troop withdrawal on May 1

Photo: Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post via Getty Images

President Biden said in a speech Wednesday that it's "time to end America’s longest war," as his administration outlines plans to begin a withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan starting May 1, with a full exit deadline of Sept. 11.

Driving the news: "I am now the fourth American president to preside over an American troop presence in Afghanistan. Two Republicans. Two Democrats. I will not pass this responsibility to a fifth," Biden said. "It is time for American troops to come home."

Lawmakers react to Biden's plans to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan

U.S. soldiers boarding a helicopter in the Korengal Valley, Afghanistan, in October 2008. Photo: John Moore/Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Tuesday called President Biden's expected plans to withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan by Sept. 11 a "grave mistake" and "abdication of American leadership."

Why it matters: Biden's expected withdrawal date is four months after the May 1 deadline the Trump administration negotiated with the Taliban last year.

Apr 14, 2021 - World

CIA director: Afghanistan withdrawal poses "significant risk" of terrorist resurgence

William Burns. Photo: Saul Loeb-Pool/Getty Images

CIA director William Burns acknowledged Wednesday that there is a "significant risk" that the withdrawal of U.S. and coalition forces from Afghanistan could allow al-Qaeda and ISIS to rebuild, but stressed that these groups currently do not have the capacity to attack the U.S. homeland.

Why it matters: President Biden is set to formally announce on Wednesday that the U.S. will withdraw all forces from Afghanistan by Sept. 11, potentially bringing America's longest war to a close after 20 years.