Bounty Claims ‘Downright Lie’ Said Russian Ambassador To US

U.S. media reports alleging that Russian intelligence offered bounty to Taliban for killing soldiers in Afghanistan were a “downright lie,” Moscow’s ambassador in Washington Anatoly Antonov said Wednesday, and are “poisoning the atmosphere of cooperation” on the Afghan peace process.

During a video discussion organized by the Washington-based think tank, Center for the National Interest, the envoy dismissed the New York Times article on the issue.

“I would like to totally reject all accusations against Russia. We are not interested in victory of terrorism in Afghanistan,” he said.

“No concrete evidence has been presented” of the allegations and the authors are “trying to create an impression that our country is an enemy of the United States,” he said.

“We are in close contact with our American colleagues, and we, of course, discussed all issues regarding this provocative news published by some mass media in the United States,” the Russian diplomat added.

U.S. Central Command head General Frank McKenzie has said that he believes there were no U.S. troop deaths as a result of the reported Russian bounty.

“I didn’t find that there was a causative link there,” McKenzie said earlier this week.

On Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has also been invited before the House Foreign Affairs Committee to discuss the allegations.
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Antonov also added that the U.S. and Russia are not enemies and cannot afford not talking to each other.

“It is very difficult to talk about Russia-U.S. relations. Too many contradictions have accumulated,” he added. “There is an ongoing debate on who is more at fault for their deplorable current state. There are contrasting views on who should take the first step towards the other side.”

“I have to admit that for now this process resembles walking in a circle without any clear perspective of finding common ground,” the ambassador said.

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