Afghanistan: A “Russian Plot” Against the US?

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What would be the political success of a poorly supported indictment against Russia?

Digital signpost through traffic

The Taliban jump for money, however the client wants it? Image: Taliban propaganda /Twitter

There is no concrete evidence that Russian secret services have promised the Taliban or their criminal allies rewards for killed US soldiers. Nevertheless, this is an election campaign issue

Several US media revelations have launched a new “Russian plot against the United States”. Fundamentals such as evidence and motif of the plot are described as murky, even in the New York Times, which the Prelude for a number of reports that lead to well-known allegations against Trump: that he is acting too lax towards Russia.

The political dimension of the recent arousal is unmistakable. The unveiling takes place during the election campaign and is used to fuel doubts in the republican camp among those who disagree with Trump’s policy towards Russia – and also with the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan.

There are allegations against a “notorious” Russian intelligence agency. The “Unit 29155” of the military intelligence service GRU is said to according to intelligence officials Afghan Taliban allies have promised or even paid rewards for killing US soldiers in Afghanistan.

This is not exactly clear, as it is also not clearly proven whether there was an explicit reward offer. The intelligence information given for this comes from interrogations with prisoners. The limitations of truth-clarifying interrogations are well known. They are also put forward by intelligence officials who support the Trump administration’s argument that it was unsure of how to classify information about the alleged Russian interference in Afghanistan.

In addition, there is information available, such as the New York Times, that Washington Post or AP contribute, too no clear direct evidence of operations performed on such a reward prospect. These are more or less well-founded suspicions and conjectures that have been discussed in intelligence circles.

According to the AP, a Seal team found a lot of money this year in a Taliban outpost raid, namely found $ 500,000, which is not directly related to a direct contract award, but is suggested within the framework of the allegations as an indication of a rich reward for an attack on US soldiers without providing evidence of this.

The amount found supported the suspicions of the US intelligence community that the Russians had offered the Taliban militants and other associations associated with them. AP

One would like to know more, for example, why other explanations for this amount of money – arms, drug trafficking, extortion, kidnapping – are excluded.

This is just a section of what shows up as “murky” on closer inspection. Some of the wording of the accusatory reports already indicate with the basic allegation that the allegations are not really solid. According to a recent report in the New York Times:

New information came to light when the White House attempted on Monday the intelligence assessment that Russia would encourage and reward killings searched (Emphasis by the author). This includes backtracking on the allegation that Trump has never been informed and the administration’s statement that the conclusions are controversial and questionable.

Assessments and the assumption that Russians are looking for something do not sound like court-proof material. At this point one could attest to the New York Times that at least it lets the doubts have their say – if the reporting did not have such a strong list. Since June 26 report, which begins by playing a “conclusion of intelligence officers,” the doubts about the inferences are emphasized less than the inferences. Which reinforces the impression among readers that the doubts are less important than the seriousness of the allegations: a Russian plot against the USA.

In the one published yesterday Follow-up article of the New York Times The main issue is the allegation that the administration was informed about the assessment of the secret services at an early stage, namely at the end of February, but that it did not respond appropriately.

The politically interesting question beyond the discussions about when Trump should have known or knew what would be at this point what would have been an appropriate response. This brings you to the next cloudy point.

As suggestions, the media mentioned include brought that he could have threatened Russia with new sanctions or should at least have confronted the leadership in Moscow with the allegations. Trump is “accommodating” to the Kremlin, compliant, is criticized.

In order to get international support behind any US sanctions, the evidence for the allegation that Russian secret services have given rewards to the “Taliban or criminal allies” is said to be convincingly substantiated. Not only with the indication that “hybrid warfare of the Russians” is behind it. According to the New York Times, the allegations against “Unit 29155” are also based on its history, accused of being involved in the poisoning attack on the Skribals and hacking the Democratic Party’s server. These allegations are controversial, but stuck in the public perception due to the repetition, without there being clear evidence to back it up.

Now it is all the more exciting whether there is better material this time. But that’s still pending. Sanctions based on these suspicions would only convince the camp, which already shared the enemy image of Russia. Would that have consequences for Russia?

As can be seen from the reports mentioned, even in those US intelligence agencies that are suspected, the question of the motivation (“murky”) of the Russian GRU unit, which is assumed to arise. Do your clients in the Kremlin want to delay negotiations between the United States and the Taliban on troop withdrawal? What for? Isn’t it in Russia’s interest that the United States leave Afghanistan?

Some argue that Russian intelligence might take revenge for a US military operation in Syria that resulted in Russian Wagner group mercenaries being killed.

This is an assumption that is unsupported and has no political dimension to turn it into a public scandal, as would result in sanctions or in exposing the Russian leadership to reproaches by the government. Such settlements are handled differently, for which the theaters of war in Syria and Libya and not least in Afghanistan provide enough examples. With signals on the battlefield that are understood by the opponents.

Whether Trump knew about the allegations against the Russian secret service, once put aside – the latest publications in the US media point in this direction – is part of the larger picture that the security circles gave a reserved attitude about how to classify the suspects are. Apparently, they were not clear enough for the administration to draw high-quality political conclusions. This is understandable according to the state of the cloudy information.
(Thomas Pany)

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