A new "cold war" between Moscow and Washington over Afghan opium
Each year, some 7,000 people die in Russia from heroin made with Afghan opium. Despite spending US$ 7.6 billion, the United States has failed to stop drug production in Afghanistan. In Moscow, this is evidence that "U.S. foreign policy has been intentionally destructive," some experts say.

Kabul (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Russia and the United States are on the verge of another cold war because of Afghan opium because of Washington's failed war on drugs, and a drug epidemic in Russia, where more than 7,000 Russians die annually from heroin overdoses, experts say.

Thanks to its poppy crop, Afghanistan already supplies 90 per cent of the world's heroin. In Russia, the world's biggest market for illicit opiates, this has led to a public health crisis and a rise in crime stoked by the drug trade.

"For Russia this is a very serious issue and the discontent about what is and isn't being done is long standing," said Robert Legvold, who led the effort by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences to reformulate America's relationship with Russia.

In 13 years, the United States has spent US$ 7.6 billion on a failed attempt to curb narcotics production. With US troops gone, "many jobs will be lost, so that could be one incentive to increase cultivation of opium," said Yuri Fedotov, executive secretary of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

In Russia, this has led to "the notion that there's more to this failure than they might have thought," Legvold said. "It supports the views expressed by Putin and his circle that US foreign policy has been intentionally destructive."