The Russian Foreign Ministry has released a statement warning of a sharp deterioration of the drug situation in Afghanistan (source):
We regret to note that the drug situation in Afghanistan continues to worsen. According to expert estimates, a sharp increase in drug production is expected in 2017. The areas under drug crops in Afghanistan have already exceeded last year’s figures, and about a third of the country’s population is involved in the cultivation of opium poppy.
The volume of Afghan drug trafficking is not decreasing, while its geography has expanded, in particular, to African countries. The so-called Balkan route (Pakistan-Iran-Turkey-Europe) has been intensified. A growing number of narcotic substances from Afghanistan are supplied to Europe via Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia and Ukraine.
At the same time, tonnes of precursors for the manufacture of narcotic substances are illegally imported to Afghanistan each year. Moreover, according to information from Afghan sources, such countries as Italy, France and the Netherlands are among the main suppliers.
In this context, the US and NATO forces’ unwillingness or inability, despite their many years of presence in Afghanistan, to provide effective assistance to the Afghan Government in curbing drug production, which is known to be a key source of terrorism financing, causes bewilderment. According to UN estimates, the “drug economy” accounts for about half of the revenues of illegal armed groups in Afghanistan, estimated at $400 million.
We consider relevant the recommendation given by US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction John Sopko to the American leadership on the need to develop a US anti-drug strategy in Afghanistan. Sopko’s report noting the $8.5 billion spent by Washington on the anti-drug campaign in Afghanistan points directly to its failure: drug production in Afghanistan is breaking records, and the country remains the world’s largest producer and exporter of opium.