New findings indicate the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence agency, is the likely source of bounties against US military personnel in Afghanistan.
This discovery comes as no surprise to US intelligence services. The GRU is known for its brazen and covert tactics. Successor to the notorious Soviet KGB, the GRU employed many former KGB personnel following the dissolution of the Soviet Union. A former CIA analyst told NPR that the Russian intelligence service is known as, “The act-now, ask-questions-later service. They have more of a boots-on-the-ground kind of mentality.”
As discussed in our previous article, a report by the New York Times stated that Russian intelligence assets offered and paid Taliban-linked groups in Afghanistan to kill US and coalition forces. The report stems from a truck bombing in April of 2019 that killed three U.S. Marines.
Within the GRU is a group known as Unit 29155, Russia’s go-to assassination squad. The unit made headlines in the past for its alleged involvement in an attempted coup in Montenegro and the failed assassination of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter. In the New York Times report from late June, Unit 22195 is allegedly facilitating the bounties against US soldiers in Afghanistan.
During a call with Vladimir Putin on July 23rd, President Trump talked with the Russian President about coronavirus, Iran’s nuclear program, and strategic arms control. No mention of the alleged bounty program was made. Trump continues to dismiss the allegations as a hoax, citing the New York Times and its unnamed sources as disingenuous.
While both the Russian government and Taliban officially deny the existence of a bounty program, other sources within the Taliban claim that Russia, as well as Pakistan and Iran, have active bounty programs in Afghanistan.
Check out our previous article on the Russian’s alleged bounty program here.