US General Thinks Russia Must Be Arming the Taliban

Provides No Evidence for Allegations of 'Malign Influence'

The Afghan War is going extremely poorly, 16 years in, and the US military needs someone to blame for its failures. The first choice among a lot of top military figures seems to be Russia, and while they offer no evidence to back up their claims, several have alleged that Russia might conceivably be arming the Taliban.

US commandeer Gen. John Nicholson appeared to be joining that camp today during comments in Kabul, complaining about the “malign influence” of Russia in the country, and insisting that he was “not refuting” allegations of Russia shipping weapons to the Taliban.

“Not refuting” is a very weak version of alleging, in this case, as US officials have offered no evidence that this is the case, nor any plausible reason why Russia would conceivably do this, as Russia fought materially the same insurgency during the 1970s and 1980s.

The only rationale for Russia backing the Taliban against the US seems to be that the US cheerfully backed the insurgency during the Russian occupation. Russia, however,, has long supported the US-led war in Afghanistan, hoping it would prevent the spread of Islamist forces into former Soviet republics in Central Asia, nations which Russia has defensive treaties with, and which could quickly suck Russia into a very unpopular regional war.

Given this, and the absolute lack of evidence, the allegations that Russia might be arming the Taliban, or at least that it can’t be ruled out, appears to be a very desperate attempt by the military brass to shift the blame for a failing war to an external party.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.