During a press briefing on Friday, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said the United States could not confirm recent claims that Russia is seeking to obtain American equipment from the Taliban that was left behind in Afghanistan. While speaking to reporters, Kirby stated that “I can’t confirm those reports that the Taliban are looking at or considering sending weapons capabilities to the Russians,” but added that such a move “would fly in the face of what the Taliban say their goals are.”
Kirby concluded that at this time, “we don’t have any indications that the Taliban is willing to export them.” This was echoed by Taliban officials, in which deputy spokesperson for the Taliban Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Zia Ahmad Takal, told VOA that the claims are a lie.
Over the past week, pro-Russian Telegram channels and state media have claimed that Russia is seeking to obtain American military equipment left in Afghanistan amid the Taliban takeover of the country, which would be used to aid invasion efforts in Ukraine. This was also followed by claims that Russia would recognize the Taliban government as legitimate, opening up more economic opportunities, in exchange for said equipment. Russian officials have yet to address these claims.
Last April, the Department of Defense reported that some $7 billion in weapons, vehicles, aircraft ammunition, and other equipment were left in the country and are now largely being used to arm Taliban forces. It is unlikely that the Taliban would consider such a deal, as it would greatly hinder their efforts to be legitimized globally and unlock billions in frozen assets. Likewise, the Taliban would be unlikely to give up American weapons and equipment as they continue to face their own security issues within the country, such as countering an Islamic State– Khorasan Province (ISKP) insurgency that has been threatening stability, as well as guerilla activities by elements of the National Resistance Front (NRF).
American equipment, vehicles, and weapons are also not compatible with Russian logistics, making their transfer even more unlikely. According to United States intelligence, Russia has been seeking support from allied countries who primarily use Soviet or Russian-made equipment, which would make their integration nearly seamless. Using American weapons, vehicles, and equipment would require not only new training, but a steady stream of replacement parts and ammunition to continuously operate and maintain, which they do not have.