A senior Russian diplomat has rejected a statement by the top U.S. general in Europe that Moscow may be helping supply Taliban militants who are fighting the U.S.-backed government and U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
"This is an absolutely lying assertion," state-run news agency RIA quoted Zamir Kabulov, head of the Foreign Ministry department responsible for Afghanistan and a former ambassador to Kabul, as saying on March 24.
U.S. Army General Curtis Scaparrotti, NATO's supreme allied commander in Europe, told a U.S. Senate committee on March 23 that he has seen evidence of increasing Russian efforts to influence the Taliban "and perhaps even to supply" the militant group.
Scaparrotti, a four-star general who previously served as the director of the Joint Staff and the commander of U.S.-led international forces in Afghanistan, did not specify what types of supplies he thought Russia might be providing the Taliban.
Kabulov charged that Scaparrotti's remark sought to "justify the failure of American military and political leaders in the Afghan campaign."
U.S.-led forces have been battling the Taliban since driving the extremist group and its Al-Qaeda allies from power following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States.