Russia

UK 'Aware' Of Intelligence Over Russian Bounties Allegations

It follows reports that Russian officials had secretly offered incentives to Taliban-linked militants last year.

The Defence Secretary has told MPs he is "aware of the intelligence" about reported bounties being offered to Taliban-linked militants to kill coalition forces in Afghanistan.

Allegations that Russia offered to pay Taliban militants to kill Western troops are backed by electronic financial data, according to the latest reports.

Speaking on Tuesday, Ben Wallace said he could not comment on intelligence but said British troops in the region do not face "any greater danger" than what they do regularly.

He described the threat to UK forces in Afghanistan as "broad".

"It can be terrorists, it can be hostile state activity, it can be any number of adversaries and we tailor-make our defensive measures to meet that threat," he said.

Britain's combat operations in Afghanistan ended more than five years ago but there are still around 1,000 British personnel in the country in a non-combat role.

British troops in the region were also the target of the alleged Russian bounties, according to an article published by the New York Times.

The report by the newspaper said Russian officials had secretly offered the incentives to Taliban-linked militants last year.

A spokesman from the Taliban said the militants "strongly reject" the allegation and are not "indebted to the beneficence of any intelligence organ or foreign country".

Russia described the allegations as "nonsense".

Donald Trump at podium in India with US flags behind him
Mr Trump has dismissed the reports as "fake news" (Picture: PA).

Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump has dismissed the reports as "fake news".

He said news stories about the allegations were made up to "damage me and the Republican Party".

Mr Trump tweeted on Wednesday that he had not been briefed on US intelligence regarding the alleged bounties because there was no corroborating evidence.

However, reports have claimed that the president received a written briefing last year. "The Russia Bounty story is just another made up by Fake News tale that is told only to damage me and the Republican Party," the tweet read. "The secret source probably does not even exist, just like the story itself."

The president’s National Security Advisor, Robert O’Brien, said the intelligence was not brought to the president’s attention initially because it was unverified and there was no consensus among the intelligence community.

Mr O’Brien insisted that the CIA and Pentagon did pursue the lead and briefed international allies.