Russia denies it is supplying the Taliban after Nato general claim

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Russia has denied a top Nato general’s allegation it may be secretly sending supplies to the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Gen Curtis Scaparrotti told lawmakers in Washington on Thursday that Moscow was “perhaps” supplying the extremist group.

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On Friday, Zamir Kabulov, the Kremlin’s special envoy in Afghanistan, said the allegation was “absolutely false”.

Russia has previously said its limited contact with the Taliban is aimed at bringing them to the negotiating table.

Moscow considers the Taliban a terrorist organisation, and backed the Northern Alliance against the group in the civil war of the 1990s.

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But in December 2015 it did concede “the Taliban interest objectively coincides with ours” in Russia’s fight against so-called Islamic State.

However, Gen Scaparrotti, Nato’s Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, told a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing: “I’ve seen the influence of Russia of late – increased influence in terms of association and perhaps even supply to the Taliban.”

He gave no further information to back up the allegation.

The comments came a month after the US commander of Nato forces in Afghanistan said Russia was encouraging the Taliban and providing them with diplomatic cover in a bid to undermine US influence and defeat Nato.

But Mr Kabulov told RIA Novosti state news agency on Friday: “These fabrications are designed, as we have repeatedly underlined, to justify the failure of the US military and politicians in the Afghan campaign. There is no other explanation.