Russia says report of Moscow arming Taliban ‘groundless’

Moscow, July 26 (IANS) Russia on Wednesday denied a report that it supplied arms to Taliban militants in Afghanistan, and called the allegation “groundless”.

“Russia does not support the Taliban, and maintains contacts with it exclusively to ensure the safety of Russian citizens in Afghanistan and to encourage it to join the process of national reconciliation,” a Foreign Ministry statement said.

CNN on Tuesday showed a video in which militants demonstrated sniper rifles, Kalashnikov variants and machine guns, claiming that the weapons were originally supplied by Russian government sources.

Although the video does not provide incontrovertible proof of the trade, it offers “some of the first battlefield evidence of a flow of weapons that have the Afghan and American governments deeply concerned about Moscow’s intentions here,” the CNN report said.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said the allegations were “groundless”, pointing out that it was impossible to determine the origin of the shown weapons in the video, as they were stripped of any means of identification.

“They are not stamped by the manufacturer” and the serial numbers are unclear, the ministry noted.

Such weapons were produced in some Eastern European countries, and some Americans massively sold them to Afghanistan in the early 2000s, it added.

No evidence has been provided that could confirm the accusations against Russia, according to the ministry.

–IANS

ahm/vt

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