29 March 2017
Moscow: 18:15
London: 16:15

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Comment by the Embassy Press attaché

The Russian Federation fully shares the concern expressed by the OPCW and the UN regarding the alleged use of chemical weapons in Mosul, Iraq.

We have been following this situation since March 2013 when one of the first incidents involving the use of sarin gas against Syrian government troops and civilians was reported in Khan al-Assal. In this context, it is interesting what western experts are saying. They stated that after ISIS fighters occupied Mosul in the summer of 2014, they obtained access to a research library and laboratories of a local university, which greatly enhanced their capability to produce chemical weapons. ISIS counted among its members former Iraqi officers who were involved in Saddam Hussein’s chemical weapons programme, as well as certified chemistry experts from abroad. As for ISIS chemical weapons production facilities in Iraq, Iraqis themselves and representatives of the US-led anti-ISIS coalition reported the discovery of these facilities.

In this connection, we suggest that journalists forward their enquiries to the Iraqi authorities and the coalition command, who had publicly announced the killing of ISIS chemical weapons experts, former Iraqi officers Suleiman Daud al-Bakkar and Abu Malik. Last year, the coalition announced the capture of an ISIS chemical weapons production facility in the city of Hit in Iraq and the bombing of another “chemical facility” of that sort.

The recurring cases of chemical terrorism in the Middle East, including in Syria and Iraq, are a matter of grave concern. Not only do fighters from ISIS, Jabhat al-Nusra and other affiliated extremist groups have industrial and domestic toxic substances in their possession, such as chlorine, but also toxic weapons-grade agents, including mustard gas and sarin. There is no doubt whatsoever that the use of chemical weapons runs counter to the existing international rules and norms. All this confirms what we have been saying all along, that terrorists have the capability to produce and use chemical weapons.

I would like to draw your attention to the fact that national security threats have become a hotly debated issue in major European countries, the United States and across the world in general. There is nothing wrong with any country having a conversation on this topic. Unfortunately, the threat of terrorists using and producing chemical weapons, which is a global, not regional, issue, is not at the centre of these discussions. Non-state actors in Syria and Iraq were able to expand their cross-border terrorist activity, making it more systematic. Unfortunately, our worst fears are about to materialise. We have warned about it on multiple occasions. There is a threat of chemical terrorism spreading across the Middle East. Even though this may sound ironic (although this would be a very sad irony), we could use a hashtag #FMknew (i.e. “the Foreign Ministry knew”). Moreover, chemical terrorism could spill over into neighbouring regions.

This is a serious threat and it is real. We have to work on it. We hope that the Iraqi authorities will be proactive in dealing with it. Of course, Russia fully supports OPCW’s commitment to provide comprehensive assistance to Baghdad in investigating this incident.

In addition, we believe that the mandate of the UN-OPCW Joint Investigative Mechanism on chemical weapons use in Syria, renewed for one year under UN Security Council Resolution 2319, should be extended beyond Syria to territories exposed to the threat of chemical terrorism.

We strongly believe that those responsible for all crimes involving the use of chemical weapons should be identified and held accountable.

In broader terms, the fact that non-state actors are using chemical weapons for military and terrorist purposes with increased frequency shows that Russia came forward with a timely and urgent initiative when it proposed one year ago to draft an international convention on fighting chemical and biological terrorism as part of the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva. We hope that countries taking part in this Conference on Disarmament in Geneva will back this initiative.


29.03.2017 - Russian Embassy’s press-secretary responds to a media question

Question: Can you comment on a Russian-Chinese initiative on investigating use of chemical weapons in Iraq and Britain’s reaction to it? Press-secretary: On 24 March, Moscow and Beijing put forward a draft resolution proposing that OPCW-UN Joint Investigative Mechanism in Syria to be extended to Iraq. Such an initiative reflected our serious concern over an increasing number of cases of chemical weapons use by terrorists in Iraq and the spread of WMD-terrorism throughout the region on the whole.

29.03.2017 - Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov answers questions from readers of the newspaper Argumenty i Fakty

In seeking early implementation of the Minsk Agreements we assume that a long-term solution to the problems connected with the deep crisis that has hit Ukraine can only be found by political and diplomatic means. The Minsk Package of Measures of February 12, 2015 has been approved by the UN Security Council, which passed Resolution 2202 of February 17, 2015. We are convinced that there is no alternative to the Minsk Agreements today. The West thinks likewise. The main provision of the Minsk Agreements is Kiev’s direct dialogue with Donetsk and Lugansk. Neither Russia, nor the new US President, nor anybody else can do for the parties to the conflict what is needed to achieve a settlement, and that is to agree with each other directly on mutual guarantees of security and the principles of building a common future.

28.03.2017 - On FCO “concern about Russian protest arrests”.

Surprised with the statement of the Foreign office. Russia respects and protects the rights of citizens to voice their concerns or protest peacefully. Nevertheless, there is a set legal procedure for arranging public events in a major city. In many cases it was followed, resulting in civilized, democratic meetings where our citizens voiced their criticism of the Government, which is normal. Unfortunately it was not always the case. Some of the self-labeled “anti-Kremlin activists” consciously misled people, provoking illegal actions, including the attack on a policeman who was wounded. Pupils and teenagers were actively recruited to participate in the event, mostly by promises of monetary reward.

28.03.2017 - Press Secretary answer to a media question on Defence Secretary Fallon statements

Question: Media report that on 27 March UK Defence Secretary Mr Fallon said that Russian behavior abroad is becoming more “assertive and arrogant”. What can you say on that? Answer: We are disappointed, though not surprised, by a string of unfounded accusations against Russia made by Mr Fallon.

28.03.2017 - Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s opening remarks at talks with Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Angelino Alfano, Moscow, March 27, 2017

We are glad to welcome you to Moscow. We value our Italian partners’ interest in further developing Russian-Italian interaction. Italy holds a special place in the system of Russia’s foreign policy relations. Our cooperation is based on firm traditions and successful experience in many areas. Our political dialogue, including at the top level, has been developing rapidly despite recent problems, along with ties between our parliaments and cooperation between our ministries and agencies, including foreign policy ones.

28.03.2017 - Press release on Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s telephone conversation with the UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson

On March 27, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov received a telephone call from UK Secretary for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Boris Johnson.

24.03.2017 - Briefing by Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova, Moscow, March 23, 2017

On March 23, the next round of intra-Syrian talks based on UN Security Council Resolution 2254 will begin in Geneva under the auspices of the UN. The delegations of the Syrian government and Syrian opposition groups invited by the UN will continue consultations in keeping with the agreed-upon agenda, including forming trustworthy, inclusive and non-confessional governance, drafting a new constitution, using it as the basis for holding elections, fighting terrorism and other topical issues. In our view, combating terrorism is a priority topic, because, as evidenced by the recent terrorist attacks in the Damascus suburbs and Hama Province, terrorism remains the main impediment to peace in Syria.

23.03.2017 - Comment by the Information and Press Department on the entry ban to Ukraine for Russia’s Eurovision 2017 contestant Yulia Samoilova

The Ukrainian officials have, once again, proved their image of a regime infested with Russophobic paranoia and nationalist insecurities.

23.03.2017 - Condolences to Prime Minister of Great Britain Theresa May

Vladimir Putin expressed his condolences to Prime Minister of Great Britain Theresa May over the tragic consequences of a terrorist attack in central London.

22.03.2017 - Press release on Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s meeting with the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura

On March 22, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met in Moscow with the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura. The officials, who met ahead of the fifth round of the UN-facilitated intra-Syrian talks in Geneva, continued their exchange of opinions on the entire range of issues pertaining to the settlement of the Syrian crisis.

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