REP LIEU AND HOULAHAN CALL FOR ANSWERS ON ALLEGED RUSSIAN BOUNTIES ON US MILITARY PERSONNEL
WASHINGTON - Today, Congressman Ted W. Lieu (D-Los Angeles County) and Congresswoman Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA) sent a letter the Secretary Pompeo expressing their concern over reports that Russia paid bounties to militants to kill U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Additionally, the Members asked Secretary Pompeo to elaborate on the actions the Administration is planning to take to potentially sanction Russia and address the content of these concerning reports.
In the letter, the Members write:
Dear Secretary Pompeo,
As Members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee who served on active duty, we are deeply disturbed by the explosive allegations that Russia paid bounties to militants to kill U.S. troops in Afghanistan. We are equally disturbed that the Trump Administration apparently knew about these bounties in March but has failed to respond in any meaningful way. Additional reporting has suggested that U.S. intelligence officers and Special Operations Forces in Afghanistan alerted their superiors about suspected Russian bounties as early as January. However, rather than confronting Russia and standing up for our servicemen and women, the President last month invited Vladimir Putin to the G7 summit. This appeasement of Russian aggression is unacceptable and must stop.
Over the past several years, we have seen an emboldened Russia take increasingly aggressive actions against the United States and its allies. In 2014, Russia illegally invaded Ukraine. Our best intelligence has repeatedly confirmed that Russia engaged in a sweeping and systematic attack on U.S. elections in 2016. The Russian military routinely flies military planes into U.S. airspace. And, if the bounty allegation is true, Russia is now paying militants to kill Americans. Despite Russia’s repeated hostile actions, the Trump Administration has often had weak responses or no response whatsoever. The United States cannot stand idly by as Russia brazenly threatens our servicemembers and our national security. We urge you to take diplomatic action immediately.
In light of continuing Russian aggression, we request that you answer the following questions as soon as possible:
- Is Russia paying, or has Russia paid, bounties to people who kill U.S. troops? If yes, when were you first made aware of these bounties? Did you discuss this information with the President and, if so, when?
- What diplomatic efforts, if any, have you made to inform Russian leaders that the United States will not stand for foreign governments paying bounties to kill American servicemembers?
- Is Russia providing any other assistance to the Taliban that may harm U.S. troops or our national security interests?
- Is the Administration planning on imposing sanctions or taking other diplomatic actions against Russia to deter their hostile behavior? If so, what is the timeline?
- How has the alleged Russian intervention in Afghanistan affected the Administration’s the Administration’s timeline for troop withdrawal and overall plan for peace?
- We request that you provide the answers within 14 days upon receipt of this letter. Thank you for your attention to this critical matter.