|Russia and the CIS News Digest
Russia and U.S. To Increase Cooperation To Fight Opium Scourge
Oct. 8 (EIRNS)The Russian Federal Service for Narcotics Control is going to provide the United States with intelligence on Afghan drugs, and expects the United States to reciprocate, Service head Victor Ivanov said at a Novosti press conference in Moscow today. "Cooperation between the United States and Russia is on the rise," he said. Ivanov reiterated Russia's view of the importance of eradication of opium poppies, referring to the success of eradication operations in Colombia. In a recent New York Times interview and his speech at the Nixon Center during his working visit to Washington on Sept. 24, Ivanov had cited the very effective aerial spraying of hundreds of hectares of coca plants with defoliants in Colombia in 2008.
Yesterday, Ivanov told AP in an interview that he hoped that the "open-minded dialogue will encourage the U.S. to take more adequate measures" on drug control. He said he had met with Gil Kerlikowske, director of the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy; David Johnson, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL); and Paul Jones, U.S. Office of the Special Representative for Afghanistan in Washington. Both sides agreed to increased cooperation, Ivanov said, and with Kerlikowske they agreed to continue discussions on aerial spraying.
The "scourge of Afghan opium production" is a worldwide problem, Ivanov had said in Washington during his visit. "The transnational nature of Afghan heroin trafficking makes it impossible for any state to take refuge from its calamitous impact. The Afghan heroin market is situated mainly outside and away from Afghanistan, and is based on a sophisticated global sales infrastructure."
In Moscow, Ivanov reported on intelligence cooperation. "We will transfer to the Americans 175 brands of drugs made in Afghanistan. In exchange, we expect to receive from our U.S. partners data on 50 Afghan druglords. Over the past eight years, 44,200 metric tons of opiates have been produced in Afghanistan, to say nothing of the record volume of marijuana and hashish."
Crop substitution alone will not work in the current war, he said. "As long as the situation remains tense and the confrontation continues, no one will engage in agriculture," he told AP. "They won't be able to cultivate grain even if they want to." Russia Today quoted Ivanov emphasizing the need to eliminate drug production. "The longstanding confrontation makes it impossible for the population to live off the land, which forces peasants to grow the unpretentious poppy, which is in demand by international criminal groups. Therefore, Russian and foreign analysts agree that liquidation of the drug economy in Afghanistan is possible only if peasants start growing useful crops, which require peace, unlike the poppy," Ivanov said.
Russia has long-term experience in dealing with narco-funded terror operations, he said. "It has been repeatedly demonstrated that the drug business provides the financial basis for terrorism and is one of its main factors for its upsurge. It was Osama bin Laden who, in the middle 1990s, created heroin supply chains to Russia's Chechnya in order to fund Chechen terrorists."
"For Russia, the task of eradicating Afghan opium production is an unrivaled priority," he said. "More than 90% of drug addicts in our country are consumers of opiates from Afghanistan. Up to 30,000 people die of heroin-related illnesses annually." There are 2.5 million Russian addicts, he said, most between 18-39 years old.
Hillary Clinton To Visit Moscow
Oct. 8 (EIRNS)U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will go to Moscow Oct. 12-14, the Russian foreign ministry confirmed today. Clinton will meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to discuss a new strategic arms reduction treaty, Afghanistan, Iran, North Korea, and the Middle East, Itar-Tass reported, quoting foreign ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko. Clinton's visit "will be an important step towards promoting Russian-American interaction in the context of the tasks formulated by the presidents of the two countries during their July summit in Moscow," Nesterenko said. In addition to the new strategic arms reduction treaty, the two "are planning to discuss an international dossier, including stabilization in Afghanistan, Iran's nuclear problem and the Middle East peace process."
Clinton's delegation will include Missile Defense Agency director Gen. Patrick O'Reilly, who will focus on ABM matters, Undersecretary of State for Arms Control Hellen Tosher told the Atlantic Council yesterday. She said that the U.S. seeks to develop real cooperation with Russia in this field.
The Clinton visit will be the first session of the Bilateral Commission set up by Russian President Dmitri Medvedev and U.S. President Barack Obama in July. Commission working groups will consider nuclear power engineering and nuclear security, weapons control and international security, anti-terrorism measures, anti-drug trafficking cooperation, economic and trade relations, and economic and scientific matters.