NATO, CSTO to Unite Against Afghan Drug Threat

MOSCOW (VOA)–The Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin believes that the NATO-led coalition forces are not doing enough to effectively combat drug production in Afghanistan.

As he addressed a meeting of the UN Security Council, Churkin urged NATO to respond to a proposal from the Collective Security Treaty Organization to join forces in addressing the drug threat coming from Afghanistan.

Given that 90 percent of the world’s heroin is produced in Afghanistan and that 21 percent of it is consumed in Russia, the statement by the Russian diplomat is more than timely. Up to 80 tons of heroin flow into Russia via Afghanistan. About 40 thousand people die of drug-related causes in Russia annually.

Even though Russia’s anti-drug services are doing their best to fight this evil, it can be eradicated only through joint efforts.   Russia has long proposed setting up an anti-drug security belt around Afghanistan in partnership with countries of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, which comprises Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

The CSTO boasts a large number of successful anti-drug operations. One of the latest was the “Canal” drug seizure operation in Kyrgyzstan. Another partner in the anti-drug efforts can be the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, embracing Russia, China, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. At a time when drug-related crimes have assumed such threatening proportions, Vitaly Churkin says, NATO should show more readiness to cooperate.

The drug problem has to be settled once and for all, if we are to achieve stabilization in Afghanistan and the region. The drug threat coming from Afghanistan jeopardizes global peace and stability and requires drastic action. Measures should be taken at all levels, from production to sale. If we are to guarantee long-term stabilization in the region, it’s vital to use the potential of organizations working in close contact with Kabul, including the CSTO and SCO.

The world community should exert every effort to block instability from spilling over Afghanistan’s borders. This week a number of Al Qaeda agents were killed in the Russian North Caucasus Republic of Dagestan. Given the situation, the Russia-NATO Council has a lot to discuss at its next session in November.

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