U.S. general says Russia supports Taliban in Afghanistan

KABUL (TCA) — General John Nicholson, the commander of U.S. military operations in Afghanistan, told the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee on February 9 that Russia had significantly increased covert and overt support for the Taliban, with a goal of “undermining the United States and NATO,” RFE/RL reports.

Moscow — which fears instability in the Central Asian nations located between Russia and Afghanistan — has been a lukewarm ally of U.S. coalition efforts there, allowing its territory to be used to transport personnel and materiel.

Since 2016, however, Russia’s role has shifted, Nicholson said, to giving support to the Taliban, though he declined to answer senators’ questions about the scope of that support.

He also said Moscow was giving the Taliban legitimacy by saying its militants are fighting Islamic terrorists while the Afghan government is not. He said that is a “false narrative.”

Speaking on Daesh in Afghanistan, Nicholson said that many of the Daesh fighters are of Pakistan origin and had initially moved into Nangarhar but had now spread around the country, Afghanistan’s TOLOnews agency reported.

He said they have attacked Shia targets primarily.

However, the Afghans on the whole reject the group – which is largely made up of foreign fighters, he said, adding that these militants were mostly Pakistan and Uzbekistan nationals.

There are some 8,400 U.S. troops remaining in Afghanistan since most NATO forces withdrew in 2014. Since then, however, Afghan forces have struggled to fend off the Taliban, which has gained control of more territory than at any time since the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.

Fighting has been particularly difficult in the southern Helmand Province, where Taliban fighters have seized a sizable amount of territory. Local officials estimate the Taliban now controls 85 percent of the poppy-growing province, up from just 20 percent a year ago.

Sergey Kwan


Sergey Kwan has worked for The Times of Central Asia as a journalist, translator and editor since its foundation in March 1999. Prior to this, from 1996-1997, he worked as a translator at The Kyrgyzstan Chronicle, and from 1997-1999, as a translator at The Central Asian Post.
Kwan studied at the Bishkek Polytechnic Institute from 1990-1994, before completing his training in print journalism in Denmark.

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