U.S. responsible for Afghan drugs mess: Russia

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October 23, 2010 14:48

A U.S. marine inspecting a poppy field in Afghanistan.

Who: The U.S.-led NATO troops in Afghanistan.

What: Russian Federation has accused the United States of America of deliberately worsening the drugs situation in Afghanistan by not closing down the narcotics laboratories spread across the country and failing to eradicate poppy cultivation. “For some reason they are unable to carry out any operations to destroy these laboratories, because there is a delay from the military side,” Victor Ivanov, the head of Russia’s federal drug control agency, told The Associated Press news agency in an interview.

Where: The Russian anti-drugs chief was in Washington for a meeting with U.S. drugs enforcement agency officials.

When: The statement came in an interview with Associated Press published on Saturday, 23 October.

Why: Russia has long complained that it is getting flooded with cheap Afghan heroin as the U.S. and NATO refuse to eradicate poppy and stem drugs trade. Reports suggest smugglers freely ply their trade in Central Asia and Russia and onward to Western Europe. U.S. officials argue that destruction of poppy fields would drive Afghan farmers into the arms of the Taliban. Ivanov admitted Russia alone has 2 million opium and heroin addicts.

How: The Russian official insisted U.S. authorities in Kabul months ago got the coordinates of 175 laboratories where heroin is processed from Moscow. “U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency officials are awaiting U.S. military approval to take down the labs,” he added in his interview with AP. NATO wants Moscow to contribute to the war effort in Afghanistan by training more counternarcotics agents and providing helicopters to Afghanistan’s air force.

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