On Monday, the Wall Street Journal reported that the United States has seen an influx in weapons obtained by the Taliban over the last 18 months, something that U.S. officials suggest is the result of Russia helping send the arms to the terror group in Afghanistan. The top general of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, Gen. John Nicholson, could not deny those claims when asked by reporters during a press conference alongside Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis in Kabul.
“We continue to get reports of this assistance,” Nicholson said. “That really occurred starting late last year, beginning through this process they’ve been undertaking.”
“We support anyone who wants to help us advance the reconciliation process, but anyone who arms belligerents who perpetuate attacks like the one we saw two days ago in Mazar-e Sharif is not the best way forward to a peaceful reconciliation,” Nicholson added.
When asked to be clear and if he was refuting that Russia was sending weapons to the Taliban, Nicholson said, “no, I’m not refuting that.”
Before Nicholson’s statements, Secretary Mattis said that if Russia were taking such action that it would be in violation of international law.
“Any weapons being funneled here from a foreign country would be a violation of international law unless they were coming to the government of Afghanistan,” Mattis told reporters.
On Tuesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov accused Secretary Mattis of being “unprofessional” for suggesting that Russia is supplying weapons to the Taliban in Afghanistan.
“These are unprofessional declarations based on nothing,” Lavrov said, as reported by Russian state-run media, TASS. “No matter what negativity might be hurled at Russia now, not a single piece of evidence to these assertions has been offered.”
Earlier Tuesday, General Jack Keane appeared on Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom” and reiterated the belief.
“There’s a lot of arms. … It’s assault rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, sniper rifles, mortars and explosive devices. There is a lot of arms going to the Taliban,” Keane said. Keane is a Fox News military analyst.
Keane added that Tehran and Moscow will not allow the “permanence” of U.S. forces within their borders.