US Defence Secretary James ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis has made a shocking allegation against Russia. He has accused Russia of arming Taliban forces in Afghanistan.
He went on to say,
“The Russians seem to be choosing to be strategic competitors in a number of areas”.
Russia has responded by condemning the allegations as “..utterly false assertions….not even worth a reaction”.
Having largely failed to bring stability to Afghanistan in spite of a direct US presence in the country starting in 2001, Russia has stepped in to conduct peace talks in hopes of restoring a semblance of normalcy to Afghanistan after decades of war and terrorism. These talks include the Taliban among other prominent Afghan factions, but these talks are in no way related to material support for Afghan militants.
An important analogy is to the situation in Afghanistan is the Russian led Astana Peace Format for Syria, where militant factions have been invited to the table in efforts to preserve a ceasefire, this in spite of Russia’s avowed opposition to non-governmental fighting forces in Syria.
The fact of the matter is that the US fears that any Russia led efforts in Afghan peace talks, could undermine America’s sizeable investment in the country, an investment that has largely failed to stem the time of political divides and extremism.
US General General John Nicholson, leader of US forces in Afghanistan echoed the words of his Defence Secretary in stating that Russia was arming Taliban fighters. Neither Mattis nor Nicholson provided any evidence to substantiate the allegation.