Russian Bounties Offered To Afghan Militants Led To Deaths Of Several American Service Members, Report Says

A soldier laying flags by graves at Arlington National Cemerery.
Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Russian bounties offered to Afghan militants for killing U.S. forces ultimately led to the deaths of several American service members, a new report claims.

A report from The New York Times on Friday claimed that Russia had been secretly offering bounties to Afghan militants to kill coalition forces, attacks that took place during peace talks aimed at ending the conflict there that has now stretched for close to 20 years. The report claimed that President Donald Trump had been briefed and his administration had been deliberating for months on how to properly respond.

There is now evidence that this program led to the deaths of Americans stationed in Afghanistan.

Citing intelligence that the U.S. military obtained through interrogation of captured militants, The Washington Post reported that a number of American troops were killed under a program in which Russia offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants. As the report noted, there were a total of 31 American deaths from hostile gunfire or improvised bombs in Afghanistan over the last two years.

As the report noted, that included a number of service members killed by Afghan security forces, which are known to be infiltrated by the Taliban. It was not clear how many of those could have been part of the bounty program.

The intelligence that Russian bounties were linked to deaths of American service members led to debate within the Trump administration about how to respond, the report noted.

“The administration’s special envoy for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, preferred confronting the Russians directly about the matter, while some National Security Council officials in charge of Russia were more dismissive of taking immediate action,” the report noted, citing an unnamed official.

The body of a soldier returns home in a casket.
  Mark Makela / Getty Images

The reports of a bounty program have led to widespread criticism of President Donald Trump, who was reportedly briefed on the matter and remained silent. As The Inquisitr reported, Trump denied having been briefed about the alleged bounty program and took to Twitter to cast doubt on the report itself.

Many of Trump’s opponents have seized on the report, including presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who called out Trump for failing to respond to the alleged aggression from Russia.

“This is as bad as it gets, and yet the president will not confront the Russians on this score, denies being briefed. Whether he is or not, his administration knows and our allies — some of our allies who work with us in Afghanistan had been briefed and accept this report,” she said during an appearance on ABC News’ This Week.