US general accuses Russia of supplying arms to Afghan Taliban

U.S. Army General John Nicholson

WASHINGTON: The head of US forces in Afghanistan, Gen John Nicholson, has accused Russia of supporting and supplying arms to the Afghan Taliban.
In an interview to BBC, he claimed he’d seen “destabilising activity by the Russians.”
The US general claimed Russian weapons were smuggled across the Tajik border to the Taliban, but could not say in what quantity.
“We see a narrative that’s being used that grossly exaggerates the number of Isis [Islamic State group] fighters here,” Gen Nicholson told BBC News.
“This narrative then is used as a justification for the Russians to legitimise the actions of Taliban and provide some degree of support to the Taliban.”
“We’ve had stories written by the Taliban that have appeared in the media about financial support provided by the enemy. We’ve had weapons brought to this headquarters and given to us by Afghan leaders and said, this was given by the Russians to the Taliban,” he continued. “We know that the Russians are involved.”
Gen Nicholson said Russia has conducted a series of exercises on the Afghan border with Tajikistan.
“These are counter terrorism exercises,” he said, “but we’ve seen the Russian patterns before: they bring in large amounts of equipment and then they leave some of it behind.”
The implication is that these weapons and other equipment are then smuggled across the border and supplied to the Taliban, he added.
The general admits it is hard to quantify how much support Russia is actually giving the Taliban, but senior Afghan police officers and military figures have told the BBC that it includes night vision goggles, medium and heavy machine guns as well as small arms.


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