Allegations have been circulating that the Russian government may be arming Taliban fighters in Afghanistan. Exclusive video footage obtained by CNN released Tuesday morning appears to support those charges.
In March, General Curtis Scaparotti, NATO’s Allied Supreme Commander in Europe, alleged that Russia was secretly supplying the Taliban in Afghanistan.
“I have seen the influence of Russia of late – increased influence in terms of association and perhaps even supply to the Taliban,” said General Scaparotti during a Senate Armed Services Committee.
Moscow responded to these claims on Friday calling them “absolutely false.”
Meanwhile Gen. John Nicholson, America’s top commander in Afghanistan, spoke in Kabul a month later and said he would not refute that the Russians were sending weapons to the Sunni fundamentalist group.
American officials seem very confident that Russia has been and is still supplying the Taliban with weapons. The new video footage from the battlefield provides testimony that this may be the case.
On camera two groups of Taliban fighters claim their weapons come from Russia. Weapons shown include sniper rifles and heavy machine guns.
A breakaway Taliban group in the West claims in one video that the weapons in their possession, seized from another Taliban group, were supplied by the Russians.
“These weapons were given to the fighters of Mullah Haibatullah by the Russians via Iran,” says Mullah Abdul Manan Niazi, according to a CNN translation.
Another video shows a masked Taliban fighter. The fighter brandishes weapons and claims they were fabricated in Russia.
“These pistols have been brought to us recently,” the masked individual says, according to a CNN translation. “These are made in Russia, and are very good stuff.”
Experts cannot confirm where these weapons come from with no identifying markers, making it impossible to verify if the weapons did in fact originate from Russia.
Replying on Tuesday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova vehemently denied the report, calling CNN “a reliable propaganda tool in this game by the relevant U.S. agencies.”
“We stated repeatedly that a disinformation campaign has been launched in the US media over alleged arming of Taliban by Russia and so on,” she said.
Editor’s note: This article has been updated.
[Hindustan Times] [Washington Post] [The Telegraph] [RT News] [Photo courtesy CNN via Geo News]