Top US general says Russian wealth has not been proven, but “it has proven enough to worry me”

“My intelligence has not been proven. It has been proven enough to worry me. There was not enough evidence to take her to court. This often happens in battlefield intelligence,” General Frank McKenzie, commander of U.S. Central Command, told the small a group of journalists during a trip to the region, according to a transcript provided by the Ministry of Defense.

His comments mark the first time a Pentagon official has answered questions about U.S. intelligence that estimated how a Russian military intelligence unit tried to pay the Taliban to kill U.S. soldiers.

Russian intelligence officers of the GRU, a military intelligence unit, have offered money to Taliban militants in Afghanistan as a reward if they have killed American or British troops there, a European intelligence official told CNN last month.

It was not clear to the official about Russia’s precise motivation, but he said the incentives, according to their assessment, had led to suffering in the coalition. The official did not state the date of the victims, their number or nationality, or whether they were deaths or injuries.

McKenzie said Tuesday, “I’m very familiar with this material, and I’m a theater commander and I’ve had a chance to look at it. I found it very worrying.”

“I just didn’t find there was a cause-and-effect relationship. I was worried, and we’re taking extreme protection measures in Afghanistan all the time,” McKenzie said, adding that he wasn’t convinced that Russia’s insertion program was directly responsible for the deaths of U.S. personnel.

“You see a lot of indicators. A lot of them are worrying; a lot of them are acting. But in this case, there just weren’t enough of them. I sent guys from the intelligence service to keep digging about it. And I believe they’re digging right now,” he added.

The general’s comments arrive as President Donald Trump continues to cast doubt on intelligence, calling it a scam lately.

Trump tweeted last month that “there weren’t many attacks” on U.S. troops by Taliban fighters, as his proof that the reported intelligence was “fake”.

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McKenzie warned on Tuesday that the United States “should always be remembered, the Russians are not our friends. They are not our friends. They are not our friends in Afghanistan. And they do not wish us well.”

“And we just have to remember that every time we evaluate that intelligence.”

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