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Russian Military Intelligence Paid Afghan Militants To Target U.S. Troops

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But it reported that it was not clear whether the alleged payments are linked to any of the 20 American soldiers killed in Afghanistan past year.

Trump tweeted that "there have not been many attacks" on USA troops by Taliban fighters as his evidence that the reported intelligence may be "phony".

Trump's director of national intelligence, John Ratcliffe, also said neither the president nor vice president was "ever briefed on any intelligence alleged" in the Times' report and he said the White House statement was "accurate".

The White House on Saturday (local time) denied that President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence were briefed on intelligence findings that alleged a Russian military intelligence unit secretly offered bounties to the Taliban to kill American troops in Afghanistan, USAToday reported.

The New York Times and Washington Post cited U.S. officials as saying a Russian military intelligence unit linked to assassination attempts in Europe had offered the alleged bounties a year ago.

We'll update as more communications roll in later today.

According to the newspaper, the Taliban operation was led by Unit 29155, an arm of Russia's military intelligence agency GRU, which has been blamed in numerous worldwide incidents including a 2018 chemical weapons attack in Britain that almost killed Russian-born double agent Sergei Skripal.

The Times said Taliban-linked militants, or "armed criminal elements closely associated with them", collected some of the money.

In a series of Twitter posts, the Russian embassy in the USA accused the paper of promoting fake news.

"This unsophisticated plant clearly illustrates the low intellectual abilities of the propagandists of American intelligence, who instead of inventing something more plausible have to make up this nonsense", the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

Media captionIs peace with the Taliban possible? It is also not clear whether Russian operatives had deployed inside Afghanistan or met with their Taliban counterparts elsewhere.

The allegations come as the United States seeks to advance a nascent peace process in Afghanistan after signing a deal with the Taliban in February that could see USA troops leave the country next year. In return, the Taliban said they would not allow extremist groups to operate in areas they control.