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Russia ready to cooperate with UNODC to combat drug trade in Afghanistan — diplomat

Russia’s Permanent Representative to United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Mikhail Ulyanov stressed that the situation in and around Afghanistan now was more than ever a priority sphere of the organization's attention and activities

MOSCOW, September 3. /TASS/. Russia is ready for cooperation with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in light of the current situation in Afghanistan, Russia’s Permanent Representative to the Vienna-based international organizations Mikhail Ulyanov said on Friday.

"The situation in and around Afghanistan is now more than ever a priority sphere of UNODC’s attention and activities. Russia stands ready to cooperate closely with the UN colleagues in fulfilling relevant aspects of their mandate in the region," he wrote on his Twitter account.

Zabihullah Mujahid, spokesman for the Taliban movement (outlawed in Russia), which has seized power in Afghanistan, said on August 17 that the Taliban promise to make Afghanistan a drug-free country.

Drug production in Afghanistan has been expanding since the 1980s and in 1999 the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution stating a dramatic growth in drug production on Taliban-controlled territories. According to UN data, around 3,600 tonnes of opium, or 85% of the global output, originated from Afghanistan in 2020. According to expert estimates, up to 80% of the Taliban’s income originates from the drug trade.

After the Biden administration announced the end of its US military operation in Afghanistan and the launch of its troop pullout, the Taliban embarked on an offensive against Afghan government forces. On August 15, Taliban fighters swept into Kabul without encountering any resistance, and gained full control over the Afghan capital within a few hours. Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani said he had stepped down to prevent any bloodshed and subsequently fled the country. Vice President Amrullah Saleh said that under the constitution, he becomes "the caretaker president" in the absence of the president and called for armed resistance against the Taliban.

The northern province of Panjshir is the only pocket of resistance to the Taliban. It is led by Ahmad Massoud, a son of Ahmad Shah Massoud (1953-2001), a once influential leader of Afghanistan’s Tajik community who fought against the Taliban back in the 1990s.