Russian state TV suggests USA involved in drug-trafficking from Afghanistan

By dutch-marshal · Feb 18, 2008 · ·
  1. dutch-marshal
    original article:

    Russian state-controlled Channel One TV has broadcast a report containing allegations that US forces are involved in drug-trafficking from Afghanistan to Europe. It also highlighted the problem of drug abuse in the British army.

    The channel's weekly news roundup "Voskresnoye Vremya" on 10 February noted that, according to the UN, the amount of opium being produced in Afghanistan has more than doubled since the coalition troops entered the country.

    The report went on to show former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair visiting the country at an unspecified time. It said that he had met almost 800 British troops during the visit. "This is either a coincidence or the working of cruel fate, but this is the exact number of soldiers that the British army loses each year because of drug abuse. This is more than the total combat losses of the royal army in Iraq and Afghanistan," the correspondent noted.

    The report then featured an extract from a BBC news website story saying that the British army loses a whole battalion of troops a year because of drug abuse (Research revealed that the story was published on 14 December 2007).

    The report went on to look at the wider problem of how to reverse the trend of increasing opium production in Afghanistan.
    Aleksandr Mikhaylov, the head of the department of interdepartmental and informational activity at the Russian Drugs Control Agency, was shown saying that economic measures to tackle the problem are foundering on local corruption. "The local authorities draw up seriously forged lists in which an amount is recorded for the amount destroyed and, in fact, the crop has not been destroyed at all. The theft of the money to combat narcotics is going on and is flourishing," he said.

    The accusation that US forces are involved in drug-trafficking came from Geydar Dzhemal, chairman of the Islamic Committee of Russia. "Without the control and connivance on the part of the special services none of these things are possible. For example in Afghanistan, the CIA and the special services are quite brazen. Under the protection of the American army they meet the necessary people. They collect the stuff, go to the Bagram airbase and they hand in a large consignment of narcotics, which is then taken away," he said.

    The report went on to say that heroin reached the Balkans via Turkey, which "has been a member of NATO since 1952 and is the USA's closest ally in the region". It said it is "another amazing coincidence" that Kosovo hosts the largest NATO base in Europe. The correspondent added that there is a "secret Interpol post" next to this base. "Here they speak almost openly about Afghan heroin in American planes," he noted.

    A man captioned as Marko Nicovic, Interpol employee, explained that 90 per cent of heroin goes through the Albanian mafia, which is now more powerful than the Sicilian mafia. He also alleged that members of this mafia bribe European parliamentarians to support the independence of Kosovo.

    The report went on to link high levels of drug crime in Russia with the US invasion of Afghanistan. "Since the Americans unleashed war on the Taleban, Russian crime labs have been working non-stop," the correspondent observed over footage of a drugs raid and packages of drugs being opened.

    Aleksandr Mikhaylov, the head of the department of interdepartmental and informational activity at the Russian Drugs Control Agency, was shown saying that the production of narcotics in Afghanistan is getting more professional and that drugs have taken a real stranglehold on the Afghan economy. "The situation today is that narcotics have become a substance used for barter in Afghanistan," he observed.

    "For as long as heroin remains the only hard currency in the country and until NATO and its military coalition do not resolve their own issues, the agricultural proclivities here will hardly change," the correspondent concluded.

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  1. Coconut
    Hasn't the Central Intelligence Agency been caught being involved with cocaine and heroin traffickers in the past? I also believe I heard of one incident where a huge quantity of cocaine was found on a plane being used by the CIA in some country. It may have been Colombia.
  2. podge
    The CIA is also partly responsible for Crack infux and the rise of LSD in the states.
  3. enquirewithin
    I would like too see mores sources to confirm these stories and statistics but it all sounds likely enough. The CIA has a long history of drug dealing, whereas the British used to sell opium grown in India to China in massive amounts in the C19.
  4. umbra1010
    Its probably true. I believed it happened in Vietnam, troops bringing back heroin and such, and it is probably happening now. I wouldn't be surprised if it was.
  5. fnord

    semi-off topic:

  6. Alfa
    You would really enjoy reading:
    Alain Labrousse & Laurent Laniel - The World Geopolitics of Drugs

    This book is used by the UN as an index for the status of countries in relation to how involved the states are in drug trafficking.
  7. Nucking Futs
    Russian state-controlled Channel One TV has broadcast a report containing allegations that US forces are involved in drug-trafficking from Afghanistan to Europe. It also highlighted the problem of drug abuse in the British army.

    Ok as SWIM sees it there is the first issue with this RUSSIAN STATE TV.Russians are not as free as they would like to think (neither are less informed americans that swallow all their feed but thats a different story). Yes there is drug ab/use in the british army as Swim is sure there is in all the armys in the world! There is of course a cirtain sensationalism for the media to headline ab/use in armed forces world wide.This however depends on the amount of free speech that a country lets its citizens exercise.

    One of swims x partners father was in the KGB as was and later the FSB and after long (often drunken him being russian) talks about the workings of sovietism Swim realized that they havnt progressed very much at all with regards to secrets and such. The countrys polotitions are still very much in it for the ideal and nothing like that should or ever does happen there!

    Dont get swim wrong he loves mother russia (not his mother but hey) and even learned to speak russian and try to live the x pat russian life.



    PS. with regards to increased poppy production in afganistan, The taliban are no longer rulers and it was there fundamental islamic followings and teachings that reduced production so much.

    (Please correct me if info I have posted is incorrect. to the best of my knowledge its true)
  8. enquirewithin
    At least Russians know they are swallowing propaganda when they read the news. Many Brits believe that the BBC is impartial, but it's also state TV. It doesn't mean that all the stories on either Russian or British are all untrue either.

    Regarding the Taleban and opium, they did stop poppy production because of US influence, ironically enough, but now they are fighting the US, they (and other groups) have turned back to it for finance.
  9. Alfa
    That is where all seems to become misty. Who is producing opium? It is clear that the Afghan government that was put in place by the USA almost exclusively consists out of opium drug lords. It is also clear that the USA and allied forces are not destroying poppy fields, while at the same time the drug war is used as an excuse to fight the Taliban and to get more countries involved in this war.

    I find it hard to believe that the Taliban is producing these bizarre amounts of opium in a country that is invaded by the armies of the USA and many other countries. We are talking about amounts so massive, that any sane person will raise questions when thinking about the production, processing, transport and distribution of over 8.200.000 kilo's(18.077.000 pounds) of opium per year. And now we are getting in reports that they have also started up mass production of cannabis.
  10. dutch-marshal
    now cannabis to?
    can someone link a report of some kind about that?

    thx :)
  11. Paracelsus
  12. dutch-marshal
  13. Bajeda
    Where did you get those figures? They sound a bit high when compared to the numbers I just found with a quick search (didn't find the latest UNODC report though).

    Looking through five recent news articles listing the 2007 figures, they all say production was 8200 tonnes = (8200 * 2204.6) = 18,077,720 pounds.

    Still a huge number.
  14. Alfa
    I entered 8000 metric tonnes in a online kg -> pounds converter. Something went wrong there.
  15. enquirewithin
    For farmers, opium is the best alternative that will provide anything at all because the US/ NATO has failed utterly to provide the security to grow and sell anything else. I think it would be hard to find any group, Taliban or otherwise, who is not in some way connected with opium. In Colombia, all power groups are connected with cocaine, whatever their allegiance.

    It would interesting to know how much the CIA and the military are involved, whether through corrupt soldiers or policy.
  16. Expat98
    Here's another article detailing Russia's assertion that the U.S. is running (or strongly supporting) the heroin trade in Afghanistan and actively transporting it to Europe. Who knows, but I agree that it seems plausible at least.


    Who is the Enemy in Afghanistan?

    May 28, 2008

    While the current occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq look to be part of an ambitious plan of US domination of the Muslim world, both are proving to be a much greater problem than their shadowy planners supposed. And whatever conspiracy jigsaw puzzle Afghanistan forms a key piece in, it is certainly not one made in Russia, despite current US attempts to paint Russia, formerly enemy number one, as enemy number two, after the current enemy du jour — Islam.

    So what is the current relationship between the heir to the Soviet Union and its nemesis?

    The overwhelming legacy of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan for Russia can be summed up in one phrase — drug addiction — something almost unknown to the Soviet Union, but which rapidly spread with Soviet soldiers returning in the 1980s from this culture where hashish is far cheaper and more readily smoked than tobacco, and opium poppies have long been cultivated uncontrolled. Hashish is widely used by Afghans, though not opium, which is for export or used medicinally. But when added to the chronic overuse of alcohol in Russia, drug use there soon became a crisis.

    The disintegration of the Soviet Union in December 1991 meant the rigorous border controls for one-sixth of the globe vanished overnight, facilitating drug trafficking from Afghanistan across Central Asia to Russia and further west to Europe . Afghanistan ’s narcotics struck Russia like a tsunami, threatening to decimate its already shrinking population. Russia today has about six million drug-users — a 20-fold increase since the collapse of the Soviet Union and a huge figure for a country of 142 million.

    Russia today is a pale reflection of what the SU was as a world power. Its foreign politics have veered sharply from the cautious anti-imperialism of Soviet days, first seemingly embracing the former enemy under Gorbachev, Yeltsin, and even during the first term of President Vladimir Putin. He strongly backed the US attempt to overthrow the Taleban prior to and following 9/11, and put up no resistance to the US as it began snapping up bases in Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.

    However, as Russia began to recover from the collapse of the 1990s, as NATO expanded eastward, and the US under President George W Bush began to wreak more and more havoc, seemingly oblivious to Russian concerns, trust in the Cold War enemy evaporated and the Soviet heritage began to look better and better. The threshold was in 2004 when Putin called the collapse of the Soviet Union “a national tragedy on an enormous scale” and reached a zenith in 2007 when he criticised the US at the 8 May Victory Day celebration for “disrespect for human life, claims to global exclusiveness and dictate, just as in the times of the Third Reich.”

    The crisis of drug addiction in Russia, now compounded by the post-2001 explosion of opium and hashish flooding the federation courtesy of US/NATO-occupied Afghanistan, was in no small measure inspiration for this lashing out. The last thing Russia expected when it opened its arms to America was to see the Taleban’s zero-tolerance policy towards opium give way to a huge explosion of opium production and smuggling, presided over by US/NATO forces.

    This is surely the most creative of all the US’s innovations over the Soviets in Afghanistan, as it loudly denounces narcotics, condemns the Taleban for tithing farmers who produce opium, and convinces a credulous world that it is doing its damnedest to stamp this phenomenon out. There are more BBC/CNN documentaries than you can shake a stick at showing heavily armed troops trying to wean the nasty Afghans from their perverse insistence on producing opium.

    The facts speak for themselves, however. The Taleban wiped out heroin production entirely by 2001. Three years later, there were once again bumper opium crops, accounting for over half Afghanistan’s GNP, and ninety percent of the world’s heroin. And not only turning a blind eye, but actively engaging in drug smuggling, according to many observers, including Russian Ambassador Zamir Kabulov.

    Commenting on widespread reports that US military transport planes are used for shipping narcotics out of Afghanistan, Kabulov told the Russian Vesti news channel, “If such actions do take place they cannot be undertaken without contact with Afghans, and if one Afghan man knows this, at least a half of Afghanistan will know about this sooner or later. That is why I think this is possible, but cannot prove it.” The Vesti report said drugs from Afghanistan are flown by US transport aircraft to bases Ganci in Kyrgyzstan and Incirlik in Turkey.

    Russian journalist Arkadi Dubnov quotes Afghan sources as saying that “85 per cent of all drugs produced in southern and southeastern provinces are shipped abroad by US aviation.” A source in Afghanistan’s security services told Dubnov that the American military buy drugs from local Afghan officials who deal with field commanders overseeing eradication of drug production. Dubnov claimed in Vesti Novostei that the administration of President Hamid Karzai, including his two brothers, Kajum Karzai and Akhmed Vali Karzai, are involved in the narcotics trade.

    A US expert on Afghanistan, Barnett Rubin, told an anti-narcotics conference in Kabul last October that “drug dealers had infiltrated Afghani state structures to such an extent that they could easily paralyse the work of the government if the decision to arrest one of them was ever made.” Former UN Ambassador Richard Holbrooke said in January that “government officials, including some with close ties to the presidency, are protecting the drug trade and profiting from it. He described the $1-billion-a-year US counter-narcotics effort in Afghanistan in The Washington Post in January as “the single most ineffective programme in the history of American foreign policy. It’s not just a waste of money. It actually strengthens the Taleban and Al-Qaeda, as well as criminal elements within Afghanistan.”

    According to Vladimir Radyuhin at, the US and NATO have stonewalled numerous offers of cooperation to deal with the problem from the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO)and the Moscow-led Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO). A Pentagon general told Nikolai Bordyuzha, CSTO Secretary-General, “We are not fighting narcotics because this is not our task in Afghanistan .” Russian border guards on the Tajik-Afghan border were asked to leave by Tajik President Imomali Rakhmon in 2005, under US pressure, resulting in a sharp increase in cross-border drug trafficking.

    Bordyuzha explained that the US was trying to set up rival security structures in the region, to “drive a geopolitical wedge between Central Asian countries and Russia and to reorient the region towards the US.” “Unfortunately, they [NATO] are doing nothing to reduce the narcotic threat from Afghanistan even a tiny bit,” Putin angrily remarked three years ago. He accused the coalition forces of “sitting back and watching caravans haul drugs across Afghanistan to the former Soviet Union and Europe.” Last year he bluntly stated that Russia and Europe had been victims of “narco-aggression”. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Afghanistan was on the brink of becoming a “narco state”. Interestingly, the cultivation of opium poppies is spreading rapidly in Iraq too.

    Russia and the CSTO continue to confront US indifference to this nightmare, and have initiated an aid and military assistance programme for Afghanistan, which includes training Afghan anti-narcotics police. At the SCO summit in Kyrgyzstan last August, a draft plan was unveiled to work with the CSTO to create an “anti-narcotics belt” around Afghanistan.

    Is all this part of some conspiracy by the US? From the Russians’ point of view, it certainly looks that way. US refusal to address the Russians’ complaints seriously just might be because Afghanistan’s opium requires secure routes to markets in Europe. A few conversations with US troops and/or mercenaries there strongly suggest they are not there for altruistic reasons. Cui bono?

    No wonder Putin has reacted more and more as Russia wakes up the the reality of what the US is up to. The Russians might have been wise to take their Soviet-era propaganda a bit more seriously before it was too late. “The Americans are working hard to keep narco business flourishing in both countries,” says Mikhail Khazin, president of the consultancy firm Niakon. “They consistently destroy the local infrastructure, pushing the local population to look for illegal means of subsistence. And the CIA provides protection to drug trafficking.” In March 2002 he told, “The CIA did almost the identical thing during the Vietnam War, which had catastrophic consequences — the increase in the heroin trade in the USA beginning in the 1970s is directly attributable to the CIA.”

    While originally backing the Tajik Northern Alliance that the US used to oust the Taleban and install Hamid Karzai as president, Russia soon began to regret allowing it to secure such a strong political foothold in what is clearly its own geopolitical backyard. When US-inspired “colour revolutions” brought down governments in Kyrgyzstan, Georgia and Ukraine, and as eastern Europe and the Baltics flocked to join NATO, the backlash against the US strengthened.

    So the Russians are in a very different position with respect to Afghanistan a quarter century on, a much, much worse one. All but the most die-hard Stalinists now regret the attempt to prop up the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) in its fantasy of turning Afghanistan into a “soviet socialist republic”, though it’s hard to see what option the aging Politbureau members had. The alternative — to let it collapse — would have opened the door to a takeover by US-armed Islamists. It should be remember that this was at the height of the Cold War, and would have meant a friendly, if feudal, Afghanistan now joining forces with a hostile China, Pakistan and Iran as the SU’s neighbours to the south and east of its own Muslim Turkestan. The starry-eyed Afghan revolutionaries led by Nur Muhammad Taraki clearly did not have broader Soviet concerns in mind when they carried out their coup in 1978. The decision to cut short the campaign of terror of his successor, President Hafizullah Amin, in December 1979 — he had murdered President Taraki and began an anti-religious campaign in the countryside — was not taken lightly, and turned out to be the beginning of the end for both the SU and Afghanistan.

    Clearly the Soviets were tripped up by the US, getting their own back for Vietnam, so to speak. What is surprising is not how “unpredictable and hostile” the Russians are with regards the West these days, but how forgiving and conciliatory they have been. It is hardly surprising that their relations with the US and NATO have soured considerably since 9/11, though they are still leaving open the possibility of working together to stabilise Afghanistan and facilitate reconstruction — the Soviet debt was cancelled this year, leading the way for greater assistance, and at the NATO conference in Bucharest in April, Russia’s new ambassador to NATO, Dmitri Rogozin, offered to accelerate transport of materiel to Afghanistan from Europe.

    According to Moscow-based political analyst Fred Weir, Russia is eking out a niche in the world order as a kind of good cop to the US’s bad cop, as seen in its positions on Iran, North Korea and the Middle East. However, its raison d’etre is not just to placate the US, but to deal with its neighbours sensibly. It has been negotiating a rail route through Afghanistan to Iran and the Persian Gulf. President Dmitri Medvedev’s first official visit was to China. Ambassador Kabulov warned in a BBC Persian language service interview: “We see the military presence of armed forces of the United States of America and NATO in Afghanistan just in the framework of our common campaign against terrorism. As long as this presence goes on for this end, we have no concern. But if the military presence is for other political or economic gains in Afghanistan and in the region, this certainly and definitely will cause special concerns.”

    Eric Walberg writes for Al-Ahram Weekly. You can reach him at
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