Is Mike Pompeo Buying into the Fake News Narrative About Russia Bounties?

It almost seems like an eternity in today’s frenetic media environment, but back in June there was one point where the media was obsessing over Russian bounties in Afghanistan.

However, after it was discovered by intelligence officials and generals that these claims were baseless, several media outlets had to retract this story.

Similar to the “Russiagate” hysteria, “bounty gate”, where Trump was accused of ignoring Russians allegedly paying the Taliban to kill American troops, eventually died down.

Well, until recently.

ZeroHedge reported that the State Department and the Pentagon have used the bounty allegations as leverage while engaging in diplomacy with the Russians. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gave Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov a stern warning that “there will be an enormous price to pay” if the Kremlin actually paid Afghan fighters to kill Americans or other allied forces in the region.

In an interview with Radio Free Europe on August 12, Pompeo went public about the warning.

“That’s what I shared with Foreign Minister [Sergey] Lavrov,” Pompeo stated. “I know our military has talked to their senior leaders as well. We won’t brook that; we won’t tolerate that.”

Russia has denied these allegations, which would have otherwise heightened tensions between the two countries.

In the same interview, Pompeo stated, “We will do everything we need to do to protect and defend every American soldier and, for that matter, every soldier from the Czech Republic or any other country that’s part of the Resolute Support Mission to make sure that they’re safe.”

This is the first time that any U.S. diplomat has brought up the Russian bounty allegations with Russian officials.

It remains to be seen if Pompeo is using this story as leverage against the Russians or if he’s genuinely working to undermine Trump from within based on the fact that Trump views this story as a “hoax.”

If it’s the latter case, this goes to show that the Russian hostility is a bipartisan trend that is not conducive to any form of positive statecraft.

In a time when China has aspirations to become a global hegemon, it would be great for the U.S. to use Russia as a check against it.

Unfortunately, antics like these will likely push Russia into China’s geopolitical orbit and further solidify a rival axis that could prove hostile to U.S. interests.