The White House downplayed on Thursday a Trump-era intelligence assessment that Russian intelligence officers paid the Taliban to carry out attacks on American and coalition forces in Afghanistan.
Spokeswoman Jen Psaki said a review launched by President Joe Biden found the assessment was made with “low to moderate” confidence, in part because it relied on detainee reports, “and also due to the challenging operating environment in Afghanistan.”
“It’s challenging to gather this intelligence and this data,” she said. “While there is low-to-moderate assessment of these reports, we felt it was important for our intelligence community to look into it.”
US intelligence agencies have determined with “high confidence,” however, that Russia’s main intelligence directorate, known as the GRU, has “managed interactions with individuals in Afghan criminal networks” Psaki added.
“The involvement of this GRU unit is consistent with Russia’s encouraging attacks against attacks against US and coalition personnel in Afghanistan,” she said.
The Kremlin has denied allegations it sought to incentivize via bounties attacks on American forces in Afghanistan through its intelligence agencies.
Shortly after the assessment was made public in media reports, former President Donald Trump cast doubt on it, saying he was not briefed by the intelligence community because they did not believe it to be credible.
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