KABUL - The British newspaper The Times has reported that Taliban confirmed to them that Russia is funding the Taliban in Afghanistan.
The Times reported that it learnt from members of the Taliban and Afghan officials that Russia is funding Taliban military operations against NATO in Afghanistan through a covert program of laundered fuel sales.
The report said that Russia’s intelligence services are sending fleets of fuel tankers into Afghanistan through the Hairatan border crossing with Uzbekistan to companies operating on behalf of the Taliban.
The Times reported that about $2.5 million USD is raised in cash from the sale of this fuel each month which is then delivered directly to insurgent paymasters.
According to the report, Russia has accelerated its support in recent months in an apparent attempt to bolster the Taliban against Daesh.
“We sell the fuel on and distribute the money directly to our commanders,” a Taliban treasurer from Ghazni province told The Times. He had been authorized to speak to a journalist as part of the Taliban’s efforts to advertise its relationship with international backers, in response to US President Donald Trump’s decision to send in more troops.
“Accepting money from the Russians is not something we like doing,” the Taliban treasurer said, “but it is necessary at this stage of our jihad.”
The meetings with The Times were the first time the Taliban had publicly admitted to receiving Russian support.