The top U.S. general in Europe said on Thursday that he had seen Russian influence on Afghan Taliban insurgents growing and raised the possibility that Moscow was helping supply the militants, whose reach is expanding in southern Afghanistan.
“I’ve seen the influence of Russia of late – increased influence in terms of association and perhaps even supply to the Taliban,” Army General Curtis Scaparrotti, who is also NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, told a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.
He did not elaborate on what kinds of supplies might be headed to the Taliban or how direct Russia’s role might be.
Moscow has been critical of the United States over its handling of the war in Afghanistan, where the Soviet Union fought a bloody and disastrous war of its own in the 1980s.
But Russian officials have denied they provide aid to the insurgents, who are contesting large swaths of territory and inflicting heavy casualties, and say their limited contacts are aimed at bringing the Taliban to the negotiating table.
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