Sunday, April 2, 2017

Russia providing weapons to Taliban, says US general

Can the world get any more fucked up?

The story comes from DAWN.

Russia providing weapons to Taliban, says US general

WASHINGTON: As a US lawmaker on Thursday described Russia as a revisionist power, a top American general warned that Moscow may be providing weapons and other support to the Taliban in Afghanistan.

“In my view, Russia is a revisionist power that will cause further trouble across Europe and in the international order more generally,” Senator Ben Cardin, a ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said at a congressional hearing in Washington.

“Russia sought to undermine and interfere in our election, and how we respond to (President) Putin’s broader strategic game is one of the key challenges of our time,” he added.

At another Capitol Hill hearing, Gen Joselg L Votel, Commander of the US Central Command (CENTCOM), told members of the House Armed Services Committee that Russia was trying to revive its influence in Afghanistan.

Gen Votel also confirmed that the Trump administration was doing a complete review of the US policy on Afghanistan, which explains why there have been more than a dozen congressional hearings and think-tank debates in Washington this month on the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

At the Senate hearing — “The Road Ahead: US Interests, Values and the American people” — Senator Cardin said that the end of the Cold War was not the end of Russia’s influence, which reminded the American people of its presence by interfering in the 2016 US elections.

“Russia has attacked our democracy, illegally annexed Crimea and invaded eastern Ukraine. Putin’s Russia now considers itself in an existential struggle with the West,” he warned.

At the House panel, Congressman Rodney Davis, an Illinois Republican, asked Gen. Votel: “What kinds of support are the Russians sending to the Taliban? And how direct is their involvement? What does that mean about our ongoing conflict there?

“It’s fair to assume they may be providing some kind of support to them in terms of weapons or other things that may be there. Again, I think that is the possibility. I believe what Russia is attempting to do is they are attempting to be an influential party in this part of the world,” said the general, who as CENTCOM chief looks after the greater Middle East region, including Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Gen. Votel, however, acknowledged that the Russians also had some concerns about Afghanistan because it’s close to former Soviet states that they consider to be within their sphere.

“But in general, I don’t consider their outreach and linkage to the Taliban to be helpful to what we have been … trying to accomplish for some time now in Afghanistan,” he said.

Congressman Brad Wenstrup, a Republican from Ohio, asked how the growing Russian influence in Afghanistan could affect the US policy for that region.

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