US claims that Russia is arming Taliban are smokescreen for own mistakes in Afghanistan - Moscow
“The US generals continue the vicious practice of keeping afloat the issue of mythical Russian assistance to the militants from the Taliban movement,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement, adding that the American accusations “are not backed with any proof at all.”
“This gives the clear impression that the US attempts to slander Russia in the Afghan context are being undertaken in order to divert the attention of the international community away from its own numerous mistakes, committed during the 16-year stay in Afghanistan,” the Ministry’s statement reads.
Moscow’s comments come after US Defense Secretary, James Mattis, again raised the issue during his trip to Kabul earlier this week, warning Russia against supplying arms to the Taliban.
The ministry underlined that NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who was present at Mattis’s press-conference in the Afghan capital, “had already stated publicly that the block has no evidence of any assistance from Moscow to the Taliban movement.”
Russia has labeled the accusations by Mattis “inappropriate,” saying the Americans themselves have a lot to clarify regarding their alleged cooperation with militants in Afghanistan.
“At the same time, our questions regarding the flights of ‘unidentified’ aircraft in the US- and NATO-controlled airspace of Afghanistan in the interests of Islamic State [IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL] and other militant groupings remain unanswered,” the statement read.
Accusations that Russia might be arming the Taliban first surfaced in spring, voiced by several American generals, including the commander of alliance forces in Europe, Curtis Scaparrotti, and head of US troops in Afghanistan, John W. Nicholson Jr.
In July, CNN released videos of Taliban factions in various parts of Afghanistan claiming to be in possession of weapons that they said originated from Russian government sources.
However, the US broadcaster acknowledged that “the videos don't provide incontrovertible proof” that Moscow has been dealing with the Taliban.
Moscow has repeatedly denied unsubstantiated US claims, with Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova saying earlier that it was nothing but a deliberate “disinformation campaign.”