Published : 2013-01-30 20:35
Updated : 2013-01-30 20:35
MOSCOW (AFP) ― Russia said Wednesday it was pulling out of a decade-old drug control agreement with the United States in the latest sign of a deterioration in ties since President Vladimir Putin’s return to the Kremlin last year.
The Russian government website published a decree from Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev saying Moscow had informed Washington it was withdrawing because the deal “does not address today’s realities and has exhausted its potential.”
Moscow said it lacked the money to fight drugs effectively on its own when it struck the deal in September 2002 at a time of warming relations that followed the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.
It added that Washington had “regularly provided ... financial assistance for the implementation of anti-criminal projects” during this time.
The statement implied that Russia ― whose economy grew in the past 10 years on the back of high global energy prices ― was now sufficiently rich to tackle the fight against drugs on its own.
But the decision’s timing suggested that Moscow intended for the move to be interpreted as reprisal for recent U.S. actions against Russia aimed at punishing those responsible for rights abuses.
The announcement came just days after the United States informed Moscow it was quitting a joint commission on civil society in protest at Putin’s record since his return for a third term as president in May.
U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Thomas Melia said at the time that Putin’s restrictions “called into serious question whether maintaining that mechanism (the civil society working group) was either useful or appropriate.”
Putin returned to the Kremlin in May after serving four years as premier in the face of the first concerted swell of protests in the past two decades.
The former KGB spy then quickly enacted legislation making it more difficult for the protest movement to organize and limiting its ties with the West.
But the strongest action came after U.S. President Barack Obama signed legislation freezing the assets and barring the entry of officials implicated in the death in a Moscow prison of the whistle-blowing corporate lawyer Sergei Magnitsky.
Russia responded by banning all U.S. adoption of Russian children -- a highly contentious decision that partially prompted Washington to pull out of the civil society group.
Russia remains an important conduit for the heroin grown in Afghanistan heading for consumers in Europe. It has also suffered through its own drug epidemics in the years since the Soviet Union’s collapse.