The West has long accused the GRU – formally known as the General Staff’s main directorate – of masterminding rude and prominent personal attacks, including hacking into Democratic Party email accounts during the 2016 US presidential election and the nerve agent 2018 attack in Salisbury, England.
The news has already caused a political storm in Washington, as congressional leaders demanded answers from the Trump administration. But observers also ask why the RIA was running a process that might conflict with Russia’s stated goals to bring the warring parties to the negotiating table in Afghanistan and avoid a sharp collapse of the central government.
“First of all, these assertions are a lie,” Peskov said at a conference call with reporters. Second, if US special services are still affiliated with the president, I would suggest [you] We proceed from the statements made by President Trump, who have already given his assessment of these reports. “
One can forgive because he has a sense of admiration: denial about the GRU always comes quickly from the Russian government.
The Kremlin has repeatedly denied his involvement in both cases, although Russian President Vladimir Putin described Scribal as a “traitor” and “vile” and suggested that leaking emails to the Democratic Party was not necessarily a bad thing.
Now, allegations that the GRU has offered rewards to Taliban fighters for killing US forces come at a sensitive time: Russia – which sees Afghanistan as a close neighbor – wants US forces out of the country.
In late February, the United States and the Taliban signed a peace agreement paving the way for the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan and peace talks between the militant group and the government.
While relations between the United States and Russia are fraught, the two countries have some common ground on Afghanistan: Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, who is often critical of US foreign policy, recently praised the US Special Representative for Reconciliation in Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, on ” Preemptive efforts “to mediate peace in Afghanistan.
Laurel Miller, director of the Asia Program at the International Crisis Group, says the alleged GRU operation targeting US and coalition forces would appear at odds with those Russian diplomatic initiatives.
Russia has established contacts with both the Taliban and other warring parties in Afghanistan as a way to influence results in a region it considers its strategic backyard. “It has long been known that there are Russian contacts with the Taliban and at least some lubrication in the relationship with benefits as a hedge method,” Miller said. Returning to 2017, for example, Army Gen. John Nicholson, the top commander of US forces, said that Russia is openly sending weapons to the Taliban through neighboring Tajikistan.
However, she said, the process of rewarding US forces would be more provocative and “something different” than its usual behavior. “This runs counter to Russian official policy,” she said. In other words, an alleged GRU operation targeting US and coalition forces could have a negative response: likely to undermine US support for withdrawal, or perhaps push for new sanctions on Russia.
But the agency has a reputation for impudence – and can act opportunistically or independently of official policy.
“This was a pattern that we have seen many times in Ukraine,” he said, referring to Russian intelligence activities there. “The Kremlin is hardly a good refueling machine, but again and again, either by denying outrageous Russian actions or throwing a safety blanket on its security establishment – it does little to improve Russia’s international image.”
Putin has shown steadfast willingness to give political cover to the government of Russia.
After only a few months of poisoning in Salisbury, which led to the expulsion of dozens of Russian diplomats from the West, Putin participated in a ceremony marking the centenary of what he called the “legendary GRU” and praised the patriotism of its officers, who work for an organization that no longer has “intelligence” in its name.