These days, the liberal press of the United States has been reading much into the fact that some Russian military allegedly offered Afghan fighters of the Taliban movement (banned in Russia) rewards for attacking American military personnel. This information has already been called fake by both the Kremlin and the White House. And the US intelligence community has yet to adequately test this information that was first spread by the New York Times (NYT).
But even supposing that rewards have been actually paid, this campaign can hardly be considered a success, because for the entire year 2020, the number of American soldiers killed in Afghanistan was eight. At the same time, the NYT failed to link any of these deaths to alleged rewards from Russia.
Here are just a couple of opinions on this issue. The Taliban themselves say the following: "These kinds of deals with the Russian intelligence agency are baseless – our target killings and assassinations were ongoing in years before, and we did it on our own resources," the movement's representative Zabihullah Mujahid told the same NYT. "That changed after our deal with the Americans, and their lives are secure and we don’t attack them."
And here is an outlook by CIA veteran Milton Bearden, who headed the agency's Pakistani residence in 1986-1989 and was simultaneously responsible for Afghanistan. In particular, he doubts Russia could offer the Taliban a reward for killing American soldiers. This insane operation would be frustrated without getting a chance to kick off, the CIA veteran said. He also recalled that when sending him to this job, then CIA Director William Casey gave him "the Stinger missiles and a billion dollars", along with verbal instructions.
It is no secret that President Trump wants to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan. It is with this slogan that he entered the presidential race four years ago and that he later declared hundreds of times. So, the question arises as to why should Russia announce bounty on the American heads, if the United States is on track to withdraw from Afghanistan? Utter nonsense and nothing else. Especially with the Democrats attributing some ties with Moscow to Donald Trump. Positive true logic suggests that with ties of this kind at hand, there is nothing for Russia to be gained from harming its own "stooge" in the White House. Can't opponents of the current US President apprehend this? It seems they can't.
In such a situation, the American media and a number of liberal politicians disconcertingly forget that all their speculation about the "hand of Moscow" in the alleged "deal" with the Taliban could mirror methods used by the US special services in 1979-1989, when a limited contingent of Soviet troops stayed in Afghanistan. There was no doubt about the Americans being the puppeteers of the Afghan mujahideen at that time. As a matter of fact, Washington has never even concealed this.
It should be noted that the broad public of the United States remembers that conflict as the "Charlie Wilson's war", named after the Texan congressman and a key apologist for the Afghan mujahideen in Washington playing a prominent part in lending them not only political, but also military-technical aid. It bears reminding that in 2003, America saw a non-fiction book by famous TV journalist George Crile about this "extraordinary story of the largest covert operation in history."
Now then, it describes how the Americans delegated to the Pakistani intelligence service (ISI) what they hated to undertake in Afghanistan. Namely, how ISI instructors trained Afghan mujahideen to attack and kill Soviet soldiers and then paid them with money, weapons and sometimes alcohol. All of this went on under the sway of the CIA, which, in turn, reported to the US political leadership on the results. Back then, Islamabad officially enjoyed Washington's considerable financial support which slashed immediately after Soviet troops' withdrawal from Afghanistan.
It should be emphasized here that the Ronald Reagan era witnessed a noticeable increase in efforts to create a united front against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. For instance, there had been a marked growth in the volume of American military assistance to the Afghan mujahideen since the early 1980s. Thus, as compared to the $125 million in 1984, in 1987 its volume soared to $630 million. The overall amount of assistance to the Afghan mujahideen coming from the United States reached $2.1 billion by 1988. This funding was part of CIA's secret Operation Cyclone. Let's not forget that Great Britain and Saudi Arabia also contributed to those efforts, except for the United States.
Claiming that Russia is allegedly paying the Taliban for attacks on American troops in Afghanistan today, New York Times wrote back in those days that as early as in December 1982 the CIA got instructions from the US government to supply the mujahideen with heavy weapons, including recoilless guns, artillery mortars and anti-tank grenade launchers. Moreover, in the fall of 1986, Washington began providing the mujahideen with Stinger missiles to fight Soviet helicopters and planes. According to the Pentagon experts, the total number of Stingers supplied by the CIA was 1,000, with about 350 of them used to combat the Soviet troops.
It would be nice if that US assistance to the Afghan mujahideen during the limited Soviet contingent's stay in Afghanistan is recalled in present-day America by those who initiate local media publications about Russia's alleged "collusion" with the Taliban and their alleged rewards for attacking American soldiers.