Russia expects that U.N. experts will be given a chance to investigate not only the incident in the Damascus suburb of Huta, but other possible cases involving the use of chemical weapons in Syria. Source: Reuters
The U.N. Security Council has begun drafting a resolution that will require Syria to disclose information on its chemical weapons stocks and place these under international control. The first draft of the document provoked strong protests from the Russian side. Moscow insists that any military operation in Syria can only be initiated with the authorization of the United Nations.
“Representatives of the five countries, permanent members of the Security Council, became divided into two irreconcilable camps, each advocating diametrically opposed positions,” an official at the U.N. told Kommersant. He noted that, due to these constant disagreements, no one can predict exactly when a final document might be put to a vote.
The basis for the draft resolution was the Russian-American agreement that was signed in Geneva by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. According to the approved plan, by Sept. 21, Syrian officials were to provide “a complete and exhaustive list” of all the facilities that contain toxic substances and submit all data on chemical weapons stocks. All work on the destruction of these stocks should be completed by mid-2014.
The Security Council must act as the guarantor that Syria’s actions will fully meet all requirements of the International Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. If Damascus fails to fulfill its obligations, the Security Council must take action in accordance with Article 7 of the U.N. Charter, which, among other things, also provides for the use of military force.
This is the very item in the draft resolution that has become a major source of friction. America, Britain and France insist that only the threat of an immediate use of force can make Damascus comply with the terms of the agreement, and that this item must be included in the text of the resolution.
Russia believes that the draft document may contain a reminder about Article 7 of the U.N. Charter, but any use of force against Syria would require a separate discussion and the adoption of a new resolution.
Moscow is also not pleased with the statement by France and the United States, which indicates that, in the event of any breach of the agreement, they reserve the right to unilaterally launch a military operation.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov once again urged people not to jump to conclusions about the guilt of the Syrian authorities. According to him, Russia has evidence that chemical weapons were used against Syrian government forces and has promised to send this data to the U.N. Security Council.
“The opposition regularly resorts to provocations, trying to trigger intervention against Syria,” said Lavrov.
A “careful examination of the evidence” was also demanded by Russia's permanent representative to the U.N., Vitaly Churkin, when he spoke at the first meeting of the 68th Session of the General Assembly of the U.N. in New York City.
According to Churkin, Russia expects that U.N. experts will be given a chance to investigate not only the incident in the Damascus suburb of Huta, but other possible cases involving the use of chemical weapons in Syria, as well.
In particular, these are the attacks on Aug. 22, 24 and 25, during which government soldiers became victims, as well as the events that took place on Mar.19 in the city of Aleppo.
Moscow intends to present to the Security Council evidence that it recently received from authorities in Damascus, indicating the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian opposition. According to Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, in these documents “there are no political distortions.”
In addition, Ryabkov criticized the findings of U.N. inspectors, who visited Syria last week and prepared a report on chemical weapons.
“We were disappointed, to say the least, with the approach used by the U.N. Secretariat and the U.N. inspectors who were in Syria. These inspectors, selectively, not in full volume, and without taking into account circumstances to which we have repeatedly pointed out, prepared their report without collecting materials from the other three incidents, which the Syrian side was asking them to do, and which we also insisted upon,” said the deputy foreign minister.
According to Ryabkov, “Without a complete picture of what is going on there, we can only draw attention to the politicized, biased and one-sided nature of these conclusions made by the U.N. experts led by Oke Selstrom.”
Meanwhile, the Russian side, in recent speeches regarding the involvement of the Syrian opposition in the chemical attack in the suburbs of Damascus in August 2013, more and more often is calling on the public to pay attention to the atrocities being committed by opposition groups — in particular, the massacre of civilians near the city of Latakia.
“There, during a raid in early August against the Latakia Governorate, Islamic extremists massacred many civilians. The victims of this massacre were about 500 people, many of them women, children and the elderly. The terrorists killed, raped and beheaded their victims,” the Russian Foreign Ministry reported.
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