A top secret Russian intelligence unit was allegedly behind a plot to pay Afghan militants to kill US troops and allies, according to a bombshell New York Times report based on US intelligence.
Unit 29155, part of Russia’s military intelligence agency, has been tied to assassination attempts and other nefarious activities across Europe.
The shadowy Russian unit, formed a little over a decade ago, is tasked with destabilizing the West.
President Donald Trump was briefed on the intelligence assessment months ago, but did not act, according to the report. Trump has so far denied that he was ever briefed on the intel.
Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
A Russian intelligence unit that’s been linked to assassinations and coup attempts in Europe has emerged at the center of yet another escalating scandal encircling the Trump administration.
American intelligence officials concluded months ago that the shadowy Russian spy group, known as Unit 29155, offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants in Afghanistan to take out US troops and their allies, according to a bombshell New York Times report published on Friday. The intelligence assessment in the Times’ report has been corroborated by multiple other major publications.
Though the Trump administration has downplayed the alleged intelligence and pushed back on damning claims in the initial story, including that President Donald Trump was briefed months ago and didn’t act, the report has sent shockwaves through Washington and is rapidly gaining more attention.
The allegations expand the shadowy group’s target list from Russian defectors and opponents to uniformed US troops in a war zone, potentially raising the stakes with a US administration that recently risked a war by killing a top Iranian general they alleged was threatening US troops in the Middle East.
The report came as Trump is pushing to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan ahead of November’s election as part of tenuous peace talks with the Taliban. The US military recently reported that it’s reduced its footprint in Afghanistan to 8,600 under a preliminary peace deal.
Here’s what we know about Unit 29155:
Unit 29155 is an arm of Russia’s military intelligence agency, the GRU.
US intelligence officials also believe the GRU was at the center of Russia’s 2016 election interference.
The unit is tasked with destabilizing Europe and the West and has been tied to attempted or successful assassinations in the UK, Germany, and Bulgaria. It’s also suspected of politically destabilizing activities in Montenegro, Spain and Moldova.
The top-secret team is believed to have formed in 2008 in the aftermath of the Russia-Georgia war.
The intel group, first identified publicly in a 2019 New York Times report, has been tied to a host of incidents in Europe originally thought to be isolated or unrelated crimes, including:
A 2016 failed coup in Montenegro.
A 2018 assassination attempt on a former Russian spy, Sergei V. Skripal, via the use of a nerve agent in Salisbury, England.
A 2015 assassination attempt on a Bulgarian arms manufacturer, Emilian Gebrev, via the use of poison. The team …read more
Source:: Business Insider