Sanctions destroy anti-trafficking cooperation with US – Russian drug agency
“The unfriendly action itself and the US visa ban on the director of the Russian Drug Control Service is severing the successful and fruitful cooperation with Russia in fighting against illegal drugs,” reads the agency’s press release distributed on Friday.
The statement was made soon after the United States announced it was extending the list of people subject to sanctions in connection with the Ukrainian crisis and the accession of the Republic of Crimea into the Russian Federation. The new blacklist includes Viktor Ivanov, who is also co-chairing the workgroup of the Russia-US Presidential Commission on countering the illegal drug trade.
“By today’s arbitrary and thoughtless actions the US administration destroying the unique experience in cooperation and international police work that has nothing to do with politics,” says the release.
The Russian agency also said that the asset freeze imposed on its head, Viktor Ivanov, can only be described as the “thrilling creativity of Washington bureaucrats” as the Russian official had never been involved in any business operations and had never had any property abroad, be it money on bank accounts or other assets.
The release says that Russian-US cooperation in countering drug trafficking has resulted in many successful operations against opium laboratories in Afghanistan and cocaine transportation from Latin America to Europe.
“Eventually, thoughtful observers and expertscan suggest only one possible explanation behind Washington’s arbitrariness – the lack of readiness for positive cooperation and the fear of responsibility for the 40-fold explosive increase of illegal drug production in Afghanistan since this country’s occupation by the US and NATO forces in 2001,” the Russian agency said.
Most of the Russian officials mentioned in the new US blacklist have also expressed surprise over the US move and stressed that they possessed no assets that could be frozen and the visa ban only hindered positive cooperation. After the first US sanctions against Russian officials the State Duma passed a motion mocking US President Barack Obama and asking him to slap sanctions on all Russian MPs as the parliament was united in its position over Ukraine and Crimea.
“Our position is extremely clear and honest. We never betray our own. We will never betray the Russian-speaking citizens and simply the citizens who live on the territory of Crimea, who have made a decision to be with Russia forever,” MP Mikhail Markelov said as he was presenting the motion before the vote. “As for the sanctions, today any sanctions will only unite our political elite, because our businessmen and the common people have always united before external threats, regardless of their political views,” Markelov added.
Deputy head of Vladimir Putin’s Administration, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters on Friday that Russia would reciprocate the US sanctions with equal measure, but still seeks to end the standoff and continue the cooperation.
“We will react on the basis of mutuality, we will react every time. This will not be left unanswered. The point is that we are not looking for confrontation and we are not originators of this sanctions exchange. We are sorry that our partners use sanctions and we consider them absolutely unacceptable. Every time we will make a mirror reply, but we still seek the continuation of the cooperation, we are interested in it,” Peskov stated.