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Russia Envoy: NATO Not Helping Enough to Intercept Afghan Drugs

Russian presidential envoy to Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov gestures during an interview with the Associated Press, in Kabul, Afghanistan (File Photo)

Russia's presidential envoy for Afghanistan has criticized his country's NATO allies for not doing enough to help Moscow curb drug trafficking from the war-torn nation.

In an interview with the Interfax news agency released Sunday, Zamir Kabulov said the effectiveness of efforts to intercept drugs from Afghanistan remains low.

Kabulov said Russia continues its operations to intercept drugs on a regular basis. But he accused Russia's partners in NATO of only sending observers instead of doing any, in his words, "practical participation."

Kabulov accused the Europeans of taking for granted that Russia will absorb the flow of Afghan drugs before it can reach Europe.

He also said he believed the United States is far more concerned with synthetic drugs and Colombian cocaine traveling through its borders than heroin from Afghanistan.

Russian officials have long advocated for bigger efforts to destroy poppy fields and drug laboratories in Afghanistan.

Last week while visiting Moscow, the director of the U.S. office of public policy on drug control, Gil Kerlikovski, told Interfax that coalition forces in Afghanistan are doing everything they can to encourage Afghans to grow crops other than opium-producing poppy plants. However, he said NATO cannot force this sort of strategy on Kabul.

He also said the demand for drugs in all countries, including Russia, must be reduced.

About two million Russians are addicted to heroin and opium, which largely enter Russia from Afghanistan.

The United Nations says 92 percent of the world's opium poppies are grown in the South Asian country.