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Dublin: 7°C Monday 19 April 2021

Video footage suggests Russia may be arming the Taliban

The footage obtained by CNN shows Taliban fighters brandishing weapons they claim were supplied by Russian government sources.

File photo of former Taliban members.
File photo of former Taliban members.
Image: Khanzada Omid/PA

THE TALIBAN HAS received weapons that appear to have been supplied by the Russian government, according to videos obtained by CNN.

The videos show sniper rifles, Kalashnikov variants and heavy machine guns and experts said they have been stripped of any means of identifying their origin. Two separate sets of Taliban claim to have been supplied with these weapons by Russian government sources, CNN reports.

Footage shows one group brandishing the guns, which they say were supplied to help them better fight the Islamic State terrorist group.

Afghan government spokesperson Sediq Sediqi pointed out that the Russians have said they remain in contact with the Taliban and there have been “lots of reports” they are arming them.

“There is no smoke without fire,” he said.

In April, US Commander General John Nicholson declined to refute reports about Russia arming the Taliban:

“Oh, no I’m not refuting that… Arming belligerents or legitimising belligerents who perpetuate attacks … is not the best way forward.”

Nato’s Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, General Curtis Scaparotti also back in March told a Senate hearing in Washington that Moscow appeared to be an increasingly influential player in the country.

“I’ve seen the influence of Russia of late – increased influence in terms of association and perhaps even supply to the Taliban,” he said.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry did not comment on the videos, but has described previous claims as “utterly false”.

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