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US, NATO fail to help Afghanistan fight drugs — Foreign Ministry

August 18, 18:01 UTC+3 MOSCOW

Washington has spent $8.5 billion on the anti-drug campaign in Afghanistan

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A drug burning ceremony on the outskirts of Kabul, Afghanistan

A drug burning ceremony on the outskirts of Kabul, Afghanistan

© AP Photo/Rahmat Gul

MOSCOW, August 18. /TASS/. The reluctance or inability of the US and NATO to provide effective assistance to the government of Afghanistan in fighting the production of drugs causes surprise, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Friday.

"We state with regret that the drug situation in Afghanistan keeps deteriorating. According to experts’ estimates 2017 will see an upsurge in the production of drugs," the Foreign Ministry said. "The areas sown to drug-bearing plants in Afghanistan have already exceeded last year’s. About one-third of the population is involved in growing opium poppy."

"Afghan drug smuggling shows no signs of reduction. The list of its destinations has expanded. It has spread to more African countries," the Foreign Ministry said. "Traffic via the so-called Balkan route (Pakistan-Iran-Turkey-Europe) has gained intensity. Ever more drug-containing substances from Afghanistan are delivered to Europe through Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia and Ukraine."

In the meantime, the Foreign Ministry said, "tonnes of precursors for making drugs are smuggled into Afghanistan every year."

"According to Afghan sources, Italy, France and the Netherlands are among the main sources," the ministry added.

"One cannot but feel surprise over the reluctance or inability of the United States and NATO, despite their years-long presence in Afghanistan, to provide effective assistance to the Afghan government in its struggle against drug production, which, as is known, is the key source of financing terrorism," the Foreign Ministry said. "According to the United Nations, the narcotic drugs economy accounts for about half of the $400-million incomes received by armed gangs in Afghanistan."

The Russian Foreign Ministry regards as very timely the recommendation the US Special Inspector-General for Afghanistan John Sopko issued to the US government for devising an anti-drug strategy in Afghanistan.

"Sopko’s statement Washington has spent $8.5 billion on the anti-drug campaign in Afghanistan beats all records. The country remains the world’s largest producer and exporter of opium," the Foreign Ministry said.

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