Russian Military Intelligence May Have Paid Taliban to Kill Coalition Forces

Posted by Brodie Kirkpatrick on

Yesterday, the New York Times was the first to report that Russian military intelligence had been secretly paying Taliban fighters to kill coalition forces (Americans in particular). The report didn't give a timeline for when these transactions occurred or how many deaths of coalition troops were linked to these deals. The NYT report cited an unnamed source but multiple mainstream outlets have reported on the same topic with CNN citing European intelligence officials.

The Main Directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation (or GRU) is charged with conducting these deals. The GRU, formed in 1992, is Russia's largest military intelligence force that reports directly to the Minister of Defense and the Chief of the General Staff. It is the successor to the Soviet-era Main Intelligence Directorate (also GRU). Much is unknown about the current GRU, including its annual budget and number of employees. The organization is supposedly broken down into 12 directorates and a few other departments. This includes a network of spies and the Spetsnaz GRU (the special forces branch). The GRU is has been involved in many countries and conflicts; including the Syrian Civil War, the conflict in Ukraine, and election meddling in the 2016 US Presidential Election.

The unit that is believed to have been behind these transactions with the Taliban is known as Unit 21955. This is the unit that has also been charged with the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury, England in 2018. Sergei Skripal is a fromer GRU officer that served as a double agent with the British MI6. It is believed that his poisoning was ordered by the highest levels of the Russian government.

It was reported that the White House had actually been made aware of this intelligence in late March. White House officials have denied those claims and the CIA, Pentagon, and other intelligence/defense agencies would not respond for a comment. Multiple US lawmakers have issued statements calling for official confirmation or denial of the reports, and action if the information is valid. This includes Senator Bob Menendez who has called for the Senate to impose new sanctions on Russia. Taliban and Russian officials have both denied the claims.

At this time not much else is known about the situation.

Stay safe and have a good one,

Brodie


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