Moscow says reports of Russia’s arms supplies to Taliban in Afghanistan ‘groundless’

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BISHKEK (TCA) — Russia’s Foreign Ministry on July 26 said that the claims that Russia is allegedly supplying weapons to the Taliban in Afghanistan are groundless, Sputnik news agency reported.

On July 25, CNN reported that it had exclusive videos purporting to show that the Taliban had allegedly received weaponry in Afghanistan which appeared to have been supplied by Russia.

According to CNN, two separate Taliban groups say they got hold of weapons, which were allegedly supplied by the Russian government. One group said it took the weapons after defeating a rival group, while the other claims it got pistols for free that were smuggled through Tajik border. Experts say the weapons have no identification markings hence it is impossible to trace their origins.

“We have repeatedly stated that accusations of a series of Western and … Afghan media regarding Russia’s alleged support of the Taliban movement are groundless… We reiterate, Russia does not support the Taliban movement, and only maintains contacts with the Taliban to ensure the safety of Russian nationals in Afghanistan and to incentivise this group to join the process of national reconciliation,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The ministry stressed that it is impossible to trace the country of origin of the weapons demonstrated in the video, as they were common and manufactured by many countries.

“It is hardly possible to seriously perceive the video materials, in which old, small arms of unknown and untraceable origin are demonstrated. [The weapons are] not stamped by the manufacturer, serial numbers are knocked down. In addition, the shown weapons are typical. As it is known, such samples were produced not only in Russia, but also in other countries, including [those in] Eastern Europe, from where the Americans imported them massively to Afghanistan in the early 2000s. Recently, the Taliban attacked the Afghan national security forces’ base in Helmand province using American Humvee armored vehicles. What conclusion can be made based on this information using the logic of the CNN?” the statement read.

Earlier, US and Afghan officials accused Russia of supporting the Taliban. Moscow denounced the claim, calling it utterly false. The Kremlin said that these accusations are made to cover up US failures in Afghanistan and noted that it maintains contact with the terrorist group only to promote peace talks.

Earlier, Director of the US Defense Intelligence Agency Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart said in his testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee that there was no evidence Russia had transferred weapons or money to the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Sergey Kwan

TCA