Responding to the US Congressional hearings on reports that Russia offers bounties to the Taliban militants to kill US troops in Afghanistan, Esper said that he still has no confirmed information on the matter.
“I didn’t see the first reports until February. I think Gen. McKenzie and Gen. Miller get some initial reporting on the ground that they began pursuing. Neither thought the reports were credible, as they dug into them,” US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said.
Meanwhile, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff says Russia and some other countries have provided financial and training support to the Taliban, the Haqqani network and other terrorist groups in Afghanistan for years.
“We are not done looking. We are going to dig into this. I am an outrage general just like every one of us in uniform is. If in fact these bounties directed by the government of Russia or any of their institutions to kill American soldiers, that’s a big deal,” said Mark Milley Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Some former US troops on a mission in Afghanistan also speak of a deep relationship between the Taliban and Russia.
John Nicholson, a former commander of the Resolute Mission in Afghanistan believes that there is a bilateral deal between Russia and the Taliban calling it against the spirit of the peace agreement in Afghanistan.
This comes as Russia and the Taliban have called the report baseless, and Russia has accused US intelligence of smuggling drugs into Afghanistan.