Trump Denies Briefing On Russian Bounties Reportedly Placed on U.S. Troops

Monday, 29 Jun, 2020

The White House denied on Saturday that President Donald Trump was briefed on bribes offered by Moscow to Afghan insurgents to kill Western soldiers in Afghanistan, information published the day before by New York Times .

John Bolton, Trump's former national security adviser who now contends in a new book that the president is unfit to run the country, told CNN that Trump's tweets about the alleged bounties show that he was not concerned about "the security of our forces", but "whether he was paying attention" to the intelligence report he supposedly was given.

"If reporting about Russian bounties on USA forces is true, the White House must explain: 1".

When that assault - together with Russia's invasion of Ukraine and its part in the war in Syria - has produced powerful criticism in Europe and from quite a few of Trump's most senior advisers, the president himself has usually appeared to have a chummy partnership with Putin, downplaying the Kremlin's interference in the 2016 US election and other Russian transgressions.

Any involvement with the Taliban that resulted in the deaths of American troops also would be a huge escalation of Russia's so-called hybrid war against the United States, a strategy of destabilizing adversaries through a combination of such tactics as cyberattacks, the spread of fake news, and covert and deniable military operations.

Tom Tugenhadt, chair of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee and a former soldier in Afghanistan, told Sky News: "Reports of Russian attempts to incite attacks on British troops are deeply concerning".

He added that the Taliban had stopped attacking USA and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation forces after they agreed in February to a phased troop withdrawal and to lift sanctions.

The newspaper, citing anonymous officials, said that Trump was briefed on the findings in March, but has not decided how to respond.

The White House, the CIA and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence declined requests from Reuters for comment on the report.

He added: "The White House statement that dealt with this issue today, which denied such a meeting, was correct. The New York Times reported, and all other reports on such alleged information are inaccurate".

News of the alleged Russian-backed scheme was met with scorn by top Democrats, including 2020 candidate Joe Biden.

The Kremlin had not been made aware of the accusations, said Dmitry Peskov, press secretary for President Vladimir Putin of Russian Federation.

Biden called it a "betrayal of the most sacred duty we bear as a nation - to protect and equip our troops when we send them into harm's way".

But it was the Obama administration, along with worldwide allies, that suspended Russian Federation from the Group of Eight after its unilateral annexation of Crimea from Ukraine - a move that drew widespread condemnation.

Biden pledged retaliation if he becomes president.

"If he was briefed and still wanted Russian Federation back in the G-8, it's even worse", Schiff tweeted.

The newspaper quoted a Kremlin spokesman saying only that Russian Federation was unaware of the accusations. "If accurate, the administration must take swift and serious action to hold the Putin regime accountable", he stated. He added that the report deepens his concerns about Moscow's "malicious behavior globally". Russia's foreign ministry also dismissed it.