Russia will help Afghanistan develop its economy and strengthen its military to fight terrorism and drug production, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin wrote in a campaign article published on Monday.
He did not outline any specific measures, saying only that the process should involve the country’s other neighbors and that Afghanistan would need to launch a national reconciliation effort, possibly including the Islamist militant group Taliban if it drops ties to Al Qaeda and other terrorist movements.
“We’re ready to consider seriously stepping up Russia’s involvement in providing help to the Afghan nation but only in case the international contingent in Afghanistan will do more to protect our interests as well, destroying drug fields and undercover laboratories,” Putin said in the article in Moskovskie Novosti newspaper.
Russia also wants to be involved in bringing together the efforts of the global community to close drug traffic routes in the region, said Putin, who is running in presidential elections this Sunday.
“Drug production in Afghanistan… grew 40 percent last year. Russia is facing a real heroin aggression that does great harm to the health of our citizens,” he said.
The NATO-led coalition that invaded Afghanistan in 2001 failed to reach its objectives of curbing terrorism and drug production in the country, Putin said.
“Only the Afghanis can solve their own problems,” he said.