VLADIMIR Putin is plotting to take weapons seized by the Taliban during the US evacuation of Afghanistan, a so-called Kremlin insider claims.
US troops scrambled to withdraw from Afghanistan in August 2021 as the Taliban surged across the war-torn nation in a matter of weeks.
At the same time as seizing regions, militants plundered stocks of Western artillery.
It is thought Taliban fighters may have stolen as many as half a million US weapons and up to 50,000 vehicles.
The US spent an estimated £62billion on weapons and equipment to arm the Afghan army as they propped up the government after toppling the Taliban in 2001.
US documents reveal staggering numbers of guns, vehicles and military gear were handed over to Kabul – only for the Afghan forces to be washed away against the tide of Taliban advance.
Estimates state 22,174 Humvees, 634 M1117s armoured cars, 115 Maxx Pros trucks, and 549,118 machine guns, assault rifles and pistols were given over by the US.
Some 33 Black Hawk helicopters, 23 Super Tucano fighter planes and 4 C-130 transport planes were also given to the Afghan Air Force.
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Other support gear was also given over, with some 16,035 pairs of night vision googles, 162,043 radios and some 8,000 trucks.
Much of this equipment may have been removed by the US, may have been out of service, and may have been destroyed.
But the numbers offers an insight into the staggering scale of Afghanistan’s arsenal – the remnants of which were picked clean by the militants.
Now so-called Kremlin insiders claim Putin has his eye on the Western weapons, wanting them to arm his troops in Ukraine.
The General SVR channel alleges: “Putin is overseeing negotiations with the Taliban to recognise the Taliban government.
“In return, the Russian leadership is offering a major arms and military equipment swap.
“Putin reported that the Taliban possess weapons and equipment including those seized after coming to power in Afghanistan, that are scarce for the Russian Army at the front.
“People initiated into the details of the negotiations say that the Taliban are extremely surprised by such proposals, but they are discussing them in earnest.”
It comes as a Russian warship armed with “unstoppable” hypersonic missiles is claimed to be sailing towards the US coast in a show of strength.
The guided missile frigate Admiral Gorshkov has been closely monitored by Nato navies on its maiden voyage armed with 6,670mph Zircon weapons.
An unconfirmed Russian Telegram channel report says it was “spotted on radar in neutral waters of the Atlantic Ocean – at an effective salvo launch distance from the US coast”.
The nuclear-capable Mach 9 missiles have a reported range of 625 miles.
The Russian defence ministry has not commented on the latest report.