US anti-drug policy “insufficient” – Russia

Russia’s anti-narcotics chief, Viktor Ivanov, describes the US policy in tackling the drugs issue as "insufficient", but insists Russia and the US should join their efforts to fight the drug trade.

On Thursday Ivanov met his American counterpart Gil Kerlikowske, Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy to discuss NATO’s strategy against drug-trafficking in Afghanistan.

He believes Russia and the US should work more closely to prevent extremist organizations from financing attacks with profits from the drugs trade.

“If the cultivation of poppies continues to go on and no destruction takes place in future, drug trafficking will continue affecting many transit countries including Russia, whose population, unfortunately, consumes heroin,” Ivanov said.

“As far as the anti-drug campaign in the US is concerned, it’s their business, however there are international responsibilities which we think should be observed,” he added.

The US is trying to curb the multi-billion heroin trade by replacing the cultivation of opium poppies with grain and fruit crops.

The Bush-era policy of large-scale eradication angered Afghan farmers and boosted support for the Taliban. In the years since the US-led invasion, Afghanistan has seen a sharp increase in poppy cultivation.

The drug has been spreading through neighboring Tajikistan and other Central Asian countries.

Russia is now one of the world’s top heroin consumers, and this has forced the Russian government to unite efforts with other countries in the fight against the drug industry.