International News

Embassy says NATO claim of Russian support for Taliban ‘idle gossip’

Russia has denied as “idle gossip” recent accusations by NATO’s top commander in Afghanistan that Moscow had been backing and providing weapons to the Taliban militant group.
General John Nicholson claimed in an interview with the BBC that Russia was acting to undermine US efforts in Afghanistan, and providing the militants with financial support and even weapons.
“We’ve had weapons brought to this headquarters and given to us by Afghan leaders and said this was given by the Russians to the Taliban,” he claimed.
“Once again, we insist that such statements are absolutely baseless and appeal to officials not to talk nonsense,” the Russian embassy in Kabul said.
US commanders, including Nicholson, have accused Russia over the past year of supplying weapons to the Taliban, without making confirmed evidence public.
Russia has repeatedly denied providing any aid to the Taliban. Moscow has said its limited contacts with the militants are aimed at bringing the group to the negotiating table.
Taliban militants were removed from power following the 2001 US invasion of Afghanistan, but they have stepped up activities in recent months, attempting to overrun several regions. 
Many parts of Afghanistan remain plagued by militancy despite the presence of foreign troops.