(BBC) – Russia has denied reports that it offered Taliban-linked militants bounties to kill US troops in Afghanistan.
Citing US officials, The New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal reported that a Russian military intelligence unit offered the alleged bounties last year.
The same unit has been linked to assassination attempts in Europe The Russian embassy in the US said the claims had led to threats to diplomats.
The Taliban also denied doing any deal with Russian intelligence.
The reports come as the US attempts to negotiate a peace deal to end the 19-year war in Afghanistan.
The unnamed officials cited by the New York Times said US intelligence agencies had concluded months ago that a unit of Russia’s GRU military intelligence agency had sought to destabilise its adversaries by covertly offering bounties for successful attacks on coalition forces.
Islamist militants, or armed criminal elements closely associated with them, were believed to have collected some money, the newspaper said.
According to the Times, President Donald Trump was briefed on the reports in March. Mr Trump denied having been briefed, writing on Twitter on Sunday that neither he nor the vice president had been told “about the so-called attacks on our troops in Afghanistan by Russians”.
In a series of Twitter posts, the Russian embassy in the US accused the paper of promoting fake news.