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AFP
July 1, 2020

UK confirms seeing US intelligence on Russian bounties

World

AFP
July 1, 2020

LONDON: Britain´s Defence Secretary Ben Wallace on Tuesday confirmed having seen US intelligence briefings about alleged Russian bounties offered to Afghan militants to kill American troops. “I am aware of the intelligence,” Wallace told a parliamentary defence sub-committee hearing when asked specifically about the alleged Russian bounties.

“I can´t comment on intelligence matters other than to say we take lots of measures to defend and make sure our soldiers, men and women of our armed forces, when they are deployed, are kept safe.

Wallace´s comments suggest the findings were conclusive enough for the United States to alert its close ally about the potential dangers posed to its own forces in Afghanistan.

“I don´t think I would say that there is any greater danger (to UK forces) than the danger they face every day from Al-Qaeda or indeed other forces in Afghanistan,” Wallace said.

Donald Trump received a written briefing about alleged Russian bounties offered to Afghan militants to kill American troops as early as February, The New York Times said Monday in a new report undercutting the US president´s assertion that he was not told of the threat.

Trump has come under increasing pressure to explain mounting media reports saying he was informed that Russian military intelligence had offered and paid cash to Taliban-linked militants for US soldiers´ deaths — and did nothing in response. The Times, citing two unnamed officials, said the claim had been included in a written version of the president´s daily briefing in late February. CNN confirmed the story but cited an official saying the document was produced “sometime in the spring.

Trump has denied being informed of the assessment while the White House said Monday the claim had been kept from him because the intelligence underpinning it was unverified.

The president is known for not regularly reading the daily brief, preferring to rely on conservative media reports on the day´s big issues — but he is reportedly orally briefed by intelligence officials up to three times a week.