Two separate arms of the Taliban in Afghanistan claim they have new weapons that were provided to them by the Russian government, CNN has discovered, and there is video footage of the reported weapons.
However, Task & Purpose recently reported that they interviewed several weapons experts who said the weapons are not particularly unusual or hard to come by, and there is no clear chain of command to prove that the Russians actually supplied them.
Some of those weapons include sniper rifles, Kalashnikov variants and heavy machine guns, CNN reported Tuesday.
“The Russians have said that they maintain contact with the Taliban, we have lots of other reports from other people they are arming the Taliban […] There is no smoke without fire,” said Afghan Government Spokesman Sediq Sediqi, according to CNN. “That’s why our intelligence agencies are up to the job to find out what level of support that is to the Taliban.”
The Russian Foreign Ministry declined comment to CNN but has said in the past that such claims are “utterly false.”
It is speculated that the Russians arm the Taliban to fight ISIS, but also to be able to fight others – including U.S. troops.
The Commander of U.S. Forces in Afghanistan (USFOR-A) , Gen. John Nicholson, said in April that he would not refute reports of the Russians supplying weapons to the Taliban: “Oh no, I’m not refuting that. Arming belligerents or legitimizing belligerents who perpetuate attacks […] is not the best way forward,” CNN reported.
And in March, Gen. Joseph Votel, Chief of U.S. Central Command, told a congressional committee the Russians were seeking influence in Afghanistan, CNN said. “I think it is fair to assume they may be providing some sort of support to (the Taliban) in terms of weapons or other things that may be there,” he said.
This article was updated on July 27.