Biden criticizes Trump for intelligence on Russian rewards in US troops

“I hope that the Trump Administration will take these allegations seriously and report to Congress immediately on the reliability of these reports,” Graham wrote.

The United States concluded months ago that the Russian intelligence unit, which has been linked to assassination attempts and other covert operations in Europe aimed at destabilizing the West or taking revenge on renegades, had offered covert rewards for successful attacks last year.

In response to the intelligence assessment, top administration aides developed a variety of potential options, starting with filing a diplomatic complaint to Moscow and demanding that it stop, along with a series of increasing sanctions and other possible more aggressive responses, according to family officials. with internal deliberations

But the White House has not yet decided to take any steps, officials said in recent days.

Islamist militants, or armed criminal elements closely associated with them, are believed to have raised reward money, officials said. Twenty Americans died in combat in Afghanistan in 2019, but it was unclear which murders were under suspicion.

Officials familiar with intelligence did not explain the White House delay in deciding how to respond to intelligence about Russia.

Afghanistan has been the site of power battles between Washington and Moscow before. In the 1980s, while the Soviet Union was mired in its own bloody war in the country, it was the United States that helped arm the mujahideen to fight the Red Army in one of the last major confrontations of the Cold War. .

After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Russia greatly supported the American effort to destroy Al Qaeda and overthrow the Taliban government. Russia declared the Taliban a terrorist organization in 2003, but recently their relationship has been heating up, with Taliban leaders traveling to Moscow for peace talks.

Fatima Faizi contributed reports from Kabul, Afghanistan.