Secretary of State says Moscow is supplying Taliban with weapons &# 171; many years&# 187;
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pledged to “respond appropriately” if it is confirmed that Russia paid rewards to Taliban rebels in Afghanistan for killing American soldiers.
“I will not sit back when it comes to the actions of our administration and President Trump to hold Vladimir Putin accountable for malicious activity,” Pompeo told Fox News..
“And if we find that there is evidence that he is putting our soldiers, sailors, pilots and marines in danger anywhere in the world, including in Afghanistan, I am absolutely sure that President Trump will instruct me, and he will react himself appropriately “, – said Pompeo.
Pompeo’s statement comes amid scrutiny by the Trump administration’s response to intelligence suggesting Russian agents may have offered a bounty for the killings of American troops in Afghanistan..
First reported by the New York Times, the alleged awards sparked an outcry in Congress, with many lawmakers calling for action.
But the secretary of state said President Trump and his administration are taking a firm stance with Russia..
“No administration has held Russia accountable like the current one. I can only regret that former Vice President [Joe] Biden did not prosecute Russia. We wouldn’t have to clean up so much behind them, ”Pompeo said..
“The failures of the previous administration gave the Russians a lot of room to maneuver,” he continued, without going into details. – We fought back. We have imposed sanctions on more Russians than any other administration in history. “.
At the same time, Pompeo said that “the Russians have been supplying arms to the Taliban for many years, so this is an urgent problem.”.
His argument is corroborated by a Pentagon report, which says Russia is actively working with the Taliban and other groups in Afghanistan to expedite the withdrawal of American troops from that country..
Pompeo defends response to Russian bounty reports
“As of February, the Russian government was working with the central government, countries in the region and the Taliban to increase influence in Afghanistan, expedite the withdrawal of the US military and address the security concerns that could arise from the withdrawal,” the report said..
“Russia provides political support to the Taliban in order to gain influence in this group, limit the Western military presence and encourage operations against the Islamic State, although Russia has publicly denied its involvement,” the report says..
The document notes that Moscow supported the February agreement between the US and the Taliban “in the hope that reconciliation will interfere with the long-term US military presence.”.
Russian service &# 171; Voices of America&# 187;
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