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Russia to help Afghanistan eliminate drugs to save region from the menace

Poppy fields in Afghanistan

A concerned Russia has said that it will help Afghanistan eradicate drugs even as Moscow increases engagement with the Taliban government in a bid to address worries related to the spread of terrorism, illegal weapons, radical ideas and migration.

In a statement, the Russian Federal Drug Control Service announced that it will support the Afghan Ministry of Interior’s counter-narcotics department in eliminating drugs. The statement came after Afghanistan’s deputy interior minister Mullah Abdulhaq met with Oleg Naumov, Russian special envoy of the counter-narcotics department.

The Russia-Afghanistan collaboration on battling the drug menace comes on the heels of Moscow sharing its concerns about the situation in Afghanistan at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in New Delhi last week.

Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolay Patrushev said in New Delhi that Afghanistan is posing major threats and risks to the security of SCO member countries.  He highlighted terrorism, illegal arms and drug trafficking, illegal migration and the spread of extremist ideology as the major threats.

Patrushev also blamed Washington and its allies for the critical situation in Afghanistan.

The US and NATO forces had vacated the war-torn country in a huff in August 2021, creating a power vacuum and leaving behind sophisticated weapons worth $7 billion. Taliban fighters usurped power as the Afghan military did not put up resistance and the democratically elected President Ashraf Ghani fled to Dubai. Despite setting up administration, the Taliban has not been able to address humanitarian concerns or people’s problems.

Russian officials at the highest level, including Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, have shared concerns that a serious threat of illicit drug production and trafficking exists from Afghanistan to Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan and further up to Russia.

Russia has also organised large-scale drills against drug trafficking with allies from the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) in the Central Asian Region (CAR). The drills have included detection, search and ambush of drugs as well as explosives and weapons.

The world has not accepted the Taliban’s assurances over security threats despite the regime claiming that no threats radiate to its neighbouring countries either in South Asia or Central Asia.

Also read: Pakistan worried as Taliban releases anti-Pak militants after taking over Afghanistan