MOSCOW, July 2. /TASS/. The authors of a hoax about Russia offering money to Afghan militants for killing US military personnel may have tried to disrupt effective interaction between Moscow and Washington, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov said on Thursday in an open interview with TASS First Deputy Director General Mikhail Gusman.
The diplomat pointed out the complete unsoundness of the information that Russia allegedly could have offered to Taliban (outlawed in Russia) militants money to kill US soldiers. "It is difficult not to wonder: who needs this and why all of this is going on? And why now, precisely at this moment, this provocative bit of fake news emerges?" the deputy minister noted.
"A possible explanation is that some part of anti-Russian-minded Washington’s political establishment may not be happy with the quite effective interaction we’ve got on the Afghan issue, I mean, here [at the Russian Foreign Ministry] with our colleagues from the US State Department," the diplomat suggested. He explained that Russian-American cooperation in that direction was successfully implemented both in the bilateral format and within the tripartite Russia-US-China mechanism involving other countries of the region.
He also noted that the accusations towards Russia regarding the alleged Afghan affair appeared on the eve of the US presidential race which, possibly, gave rise to the emergence of such allegations on the subject sensitive to voters. Morgulov added that the current White House’s occupant Donald Trump had promised to end the longest military campaign in the US history but those efforts are met with the internal confrontation of those who are still profiting from it.
"In general, I think that this cheap provocation, really, attracted the attention of world media outlets undeservingly," the high-ranking diplomat pointed out.
An "elaborate hoax"
On June 26, The New York Times ran a story claiming that an unidentified unit of the Russian military intelligence allegedly offered bounties to Taliban (outlawed in Russia) militants to kill US soldiers and other coalition troops in Afghanistan. On June 29, Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman, castigated these reports as fabrications and an "elaborate hoax." On June 27, the Russian Foreign Ministry labeled the initial publication on this issue as intentionally false.
Trump, representing the Republican party, on June 28 commented on Twitter that US intelligence did not find this information credible.
On February 14, 2003, the Russian Supreme Court declared the Taliban a terrorist organization. The extremist organization’s activities are outlawed in Russia.