Russia is prepared to help Afghanistan rebuild its economic infrastructure, Russia's drug control chief said on Wednesday.
"We are ready to invest in the rebuilding of these objects and, of course, we hope that NATO, which has specifically undertaken to maintain security in Afghanistan, will guarantee this for us," head of the Russian Federal Drug Control Service Viktor Ivanov said at a press conference in Brussels.
More than 140 industrial facilities and other branches of the economic infrastructure built in Afghanistan by Soviet specialists are considered candidates for reconstruction using Russian expertise. The structures were set up before the U.S-led NATO invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.
Ivanov said "those 142 objects, which were built earlier by Russia, are today the base of the entire Afghan economy."
Soviet engineers were involved in constructing a total of 142 industrial and infrastructure facilities in Afghanistan in 1952-1988, with funds provided by the Soviet government, the paper said. The Pul-i-Kumri hydropower plant on the Kunduz River, the Naglu dam on the Kabul River and a nitrogen fertilizer plant in the city of Mazar-e-Sharif are among the facilities, as well highways, power lines, and gas and oil pipeline networks.
According to Russian expert estimates, the facilities accounted for more than 60% of Afghanistan's GDP in 1970-1980.
Afghan drug production increased dramatically after the U.S.-led invasion that toppled the Taliban in 2001, and Russia has been one of the most affected countries, with heroin consumption rising steeply. An estimated 90% of heroin consumed in Russia is trafficked from Afghanistan via Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
Ivanov criticized in late March a NATO statement which said the organization would be prepared to destroy the plantations if the UN passed a special resolution, but that Afghan poppy farmers must not be left without means of livelihood.
However, he said NATO spokesman James Apparthurai announced on March 25 that the alliance cannot allow a situation where people in one of the world's poorest nations are left without means of livelihood and receive no compensation. He stressed that NATO's position is at odds with a UN resolution making it incumbent on all UN member states to eliminate illegal drug plantations.
"We consider that civil construction projects are the most effective way to fight insurgents. This gives Afghanistan the opportunity to develop a normal independent economy," Dmitry Rogozin, Russia's envoy to NATO, said at the end of January.
BRUSSELS, April 14 (RIA Novosti)