The newspaper has cited new allegations by a former US commander in Afghanistan who accused Russia three years ago, without providing “definitive evidence”, of supplying weapons to the Taliban. Moscow has denied ever arming the Afghan insurgents.
American intelligence officials suspect that Russia had been covertly aiding the Taliban for years, The New York Times reports.
The newspaper cites unnamed Afghan officials as saying that several years ago they had uncovered a “short-lived” Iranian scheme to supply weapons to Taliban fighters via Tajikistan, a former Soviet republic with a 1,350-kilometre-long border with Afghanistan.
The Afghan sources also claimed that Russia had used its fuel imports for NATO and Afghan forces to “ensure influence and keep intelligence assets” loyal. A former Afghan official stated that Russia had supplied extra fuel with convoys of Afghanistan-bound oil tankers for “circulation” inside the country instead of direct cash transfers.
According to The Times, American intelligence officials believe that Moscow had begun supporting Afghan militants since around 2012 as it grew discontented with protracted instability in Afghanistan and the slow pace of the US withdrawal.
Retired General John W. Nicholson told a briefing at the House Foreign Affairs Committee last Thursday the assumption was that alleged Russian assistance had come in “modest quantities” and had been designed to embarrass US troops…