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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.