The Pentagon said in a statement late Tuesday evening that it had no corroborating evidence that Russian operatives offered bounties to the Taliban for American soldiers stationed in Afghanistan.
“The Department of Defense continues to evaluate intelligence that Russian GRU operatives were engaged in malign activity against United States and coalition forces in Afghanistan. To date, DOD has no corroborating evidence to validate the recent allegations found in open-source reports,” said Chief Pentagon Spokesman Jonathan Hoffman.
“Regardless, we always take the safety and security of our forces in Afghanistan – and around the world – most seriously and therefore continuously adopt measures to prevent harm from potential threats,” Hoffman added.
The statement came in response to a New York Times report that claimed that a Russian military intelligence unit secretly offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants to kill U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan.
The Times cited anonymous officials “briefed on the matter.”
The report claimed that the U.S. “concluded months ago” that the Russian unit had offered the bounties for successful attacks last year and that Islamist militants, or criminal elements closely associated with them, collected some bounty money and that the finding was briefed to President Donald Trump.
The report claimed that the National Security Council discussed the problem at an interagency meeting in late March, and officials developed a “menu of potential options,” but the White House had not authorized any step.
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said the president and the vice president were never briefed on the allegations, and that there was no consensus among the intelligence community on the allegations.