The bombshell story claiming Russia paid Afghan militants to kill US soldiers is fake news targeting the Trump administration and its attempts to withdraw troops from the country, Russia’s top Afghanistan diplomat has said.

“It is clear that there are forces in the US which don’t want to withdraw from Afghanistan, want a justification for their own failures. This is what it’s all about,” Zamir Kabulov, Russia’s presidential envoy to Afghanistan, told RIA Novosti.

“We really shouldn’t waste time commenting on the obvious lie,” he added.

The veteran diplomat was referring to a New York Times report which claimed that Russian military intelligence had offered monetary rewards to Taliban-linked militants in Afghanistan to kill members of the US military service. The explosive report is based on anonymous sources and accused US President Donald Trump of failing to act on the information.

The White House and the US’ director of national intelligence denied that Trump was ever briefed on such an allegation. The president later said US intelligence found that claims of bounties were not credible and so did not report them up the chain of command.

Russia said the report was a poorly conceived piece of disinformation that called into question the intellect of the US intelligence propagandists who invented it.

The US is currently trying to pull out of the longest war in its history, promoting peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government. The negotiations may commence soon, as the sides are inching towards resolving the issue of their unfinished prisoner exchange.

Last week, before the NYT report was published, Reuters reported that the militant movement was considering agreeing to move forward with the talks before some of its people are released.

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