Moscow rejects U.S. general’s statement that Russia supplying Taliban

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BISHKEK (TCA) — A senior Russian diplomat has rejected a statement by the top U.S. general in Europe that Moscow may be helping supply Taliban militants in Afghanistan, RFE/RL reported.

“This is an absolutely lying assertion,” Russian state-run news agency RIA quoted Zamir Kabulov, head of the Foreign Ministry department responsible for Afghanistan and a former Russian ambassador to Kabul, as saying on March 24.

U.S. Army General Curtis Scaparrotti, NATO’s supreme allied commander in Europe, told a U.S. Senate committee on March 23 that he has seen evidence of increasing Russian efforts to influence the Taliban “and perhaps even to supply” the militant group.

Scaparrotti, a four-star general who previously served as the director of the Joint Staff and the commander of U.S.-led international forces in Afghanistan, did not specify what types of supplies he thought Russia might be providing the Taliban.

Kabulov charged that Scaparrotti’s remark sought to “justify the failure of American military and political leaders in the Afghan campaign.”

TOLOnews agency on March 19 quoted Afghanistan’s Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani as saying that Russian officials had assured the Afghan government that contacts between Russia and the Taliban were aimed only at persuading the insurgent group to endorse peace talks with the Afghan government.
 
Rabbani stressed that Russia had promised the Afghan government that ties with the Taliban were to encourage peace talks between the two sides.

On March 10, the Russian Foreign Ministry said that accusations of Russia’s support of the Taliban in Afghanistan through arms supplies are “absurd”.

Moscow’s aim in contacts with the fundamentalist Taliban movement in Afghanistan is to encourage its members to join national reconciliation efforts and ensure the safety of Russian citizens, the ministry said in a statement.

Sergey Kwan

TCA