Russia Secretly Offered Afghan Militants Bounties to Kill U.S. Troops, Intelligence Says

Some officers have theorized that the Russians could also be searching for revenge on NATO forces for a 2018 battle in Syria during which the American navy killed a number of hundred pro-Syrian forces, together with quite a few Russian mercenaries, as they superior on an American outpost. Officials have additionally prompt that the Russians might have been attempting to derail peace talks to maintain the United States slowed down in Afghanistan. But the motivation stays murky.

The officers briefed on the matter stated the federal government had assessed the operation to be the handiwork of Unit 29155, an arm of Russia’s navy intelligence company, identified extensively because the G.R.U. The unit is linked to the March 2018 nerve agent poisoning in Salisbury, England, of Sergei Skripal, a former G.R.U. officer who had labored for British intelligence after which defected, and his daughter.

Western intelligence officers say the unit, which has operated for greater than a decade, has been charged by the Kremlin with finishing up a marketing campaign to destabilize the West via subversion, sabotage and assassination. In addition to the 2018 poisoning, the unit was behind an tried coup in Montenegro in 2016 and the poisoning of an arms producer in Bulgaria a 12 months earlier.

American intelligence officers say the G.R.U. was on the heart of Moscow’s covert efforts to intervene within the 2016 presidential election. In the months earlier than that election, American officers say, two G.R.U. cyberunits, often known as 26165 and 74455, hacked into Democratic Party servers after which used WikiLeaks to publish embarrassing inside communications.

In half as a result of these efforts had been geared toward serving to tilt the election in Mr. Trump’s favor, his dealing with of points associated to Russia and Mr. Putin has come beneath specific scrutiny. The particular counsel investigation discovered that the Trump marketing campaign welcomed Russia’s intervention and anticipated to profit from it, however discovered inadequate proof to set up that his associates had engaged in any legal conspiracy with Moscow.

Operations involving Unit 29155 have a tendency to be way more violent than these involving the cyberunits. Its officers are sometimes adorned navy veterans with years of service, in some instances relationship to the Soviet Union’s failed battle in Afghanistan within the 1980s. Never earlier than has the unit been accused of orchestrating assaults on Western troopers, however officers briefed on its operations say it has been lively in Afghanistan for a few years.

Though Russia declared the Taliban a terrorist group in 2003, relations between them have been warming in recent times. Taliban officers have traveled to Moscow for peace talks with different distinguished Afghans, together with the previous president, Hamid Karzai. The talks have excluded representatives from the present Afghan authorities in addition to anybody from the United States, and at occasions they’ve appeared to work at crosscurrents with American efforts to deliver an finish to the battle.

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