Russia criticizes US on Afghan drug war
A senior Russian official on Thursday sharply criticized the US campaign to limit Afghanistan's illegal drug trade, saying Washington's efforts are unevenly enforced and overly political, dpa reported.
Russia would be willing to offer Washington and NATO assistance, but NATO forces must be "more active" in fighting narcotics manufacture and distribution, said Viktor Ivanov, director of Russia's Federal Service for the Control of Narcotics, in comments to the Rossiya 24 television channel.
"We want to offer to the Americans use of our space capacities to develop a digital map of fields used for the illegal drugs trade, to help create a land register in Afghanistan," Ivanov said.
"But, at the present time, the problem of fighting illegal drugs in Afghanistan is far too burdened with ideology," he said.
NATO and US forces responsible for reducing Afghanistan's production of opium poppies, a key precursor to the illegal drug heroin, are only targeting "drug barons" allied with the country's Taliban-led insurgency, Ivanov said.
This policy has left untouched members of Afghanistan's illegal drug industry that are allied with either local warlords or the central government - which has led to a massive narcotics production spike in the country, Ivanov said.
"We see the results, and they are saddening. Narcotics production (in Afghanistan) has increased by a factor of 40. There is a humanitarian catastrophe and collosal unemployment, and this has created ideal conditions for the narcotics trade," he said.
Russia reportedly has provided coalition forces in Afghanistan intelligence on regional drug trafficking for years. The information is obtained from spy satellites and a network of spies throughout Central Asia, according to Russian media reports.
Use of narcotics is a growing problem inside Russia. More than 100,000 Russians die each year from health problems related to drug addiction, the Interfax news agency reported.