Global Insights: Russia-NATO Cooperation a Bright Sign in a Gloomy War

Global Insights: Russia-NATO Cooperation a Bright Sign in a Gloomy War

Although opinion polls show that foreign policy will have little impact on today's congressional elections, the war in Afghanistan will certainly be an important subject of concern for the new Congress. And last week's unprecedented joint Russian-U.S. drug raid against several narcotics laboratories in Afghanistan is a hopeful sign. The raid suggests that Russian-American differences over the war are narrowing, and raises the possibility that Moscow will provide additional support to the coalition's war efforts in Afghanistan in coming weeks.

In a commando operation that took place in the early morning hours of Oct. 28, Russian counternarcotics officers for the first time joined with their Afghan and American counterparts to destroy four narcotics laboratories in Nangarhar province in eastern Afghanistan, near the border with Pakistan. The approximately 70 troops involved, supported by helicopters and other assets, reportedly seized about 1 ton of heroin as well as other opiates, various precursor chemicals, and drug-making equipment.

Russian and U.S. officials briefed the media the day following the raid at a Moscow news conference. Eric Rubin, the deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, said that the goal of the operation was "to identify, disrupt and deny material support to terrorism, and very specifically to the Taliban elements that are supporting this drug trade." The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) stated that DEA, Afghan, and Russian counternarcotics agents had participated in the raid, along with special forces from the U.S. 101st Airborne Division and other NATO coalition units.

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