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Russia Pushing for Opium Production Elimination in Afghanistan

Opium production in Afghanistan is a real threat to the success of U.S.-led operations, according to a recent Businessweek report. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov highlighted that these efforts will be “in vain” if forces cannot fight opium production and provide people with alternative economic opportunities.

Ivanov noted that NATO forces must figure out how to start very primitive social economic life in Afghanistan. He went on to say that the International Security Assistance Force should do more to curb the opium production.

This crop provides the Taliban and other groups like al-Qaueda with “billions and billions of dollars every year. Russia is one country that is not happy with the global efforts to stop this activity in Afghanistan as the narcotics trade continues to threaten international peace and security.

Russia has become the world’s third-largest market for illegal drugs in the past decade. The country fought its own war in Afghanistan in the 1980s and supports the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s mission by allowing military supplies to cross its territory.

In January, U.S., British and Afghan troops launched the biggest operation against the Taliban since the 2001 invasion. The aim of this mission was to wipe out an opium production center that continues to help fund the guerilla movement.

Iran is also in the mix, seriously fighting drug traffickers along its border with Afghanistan and Russia has proposed a coordination with the former Soviet states to form “counter-drug rings” around Afghanistan, which is the highest-yielding opium producer in the world.

“If you burn down poppy plantation of course you need to invest in conventional agriculture,” Ivanov said. “We understood we should buy higher than the average price to motivate the local peasants.” Whether or not this will be successful remains to be seen.

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