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AMBASSADOR'S ARTICLES

05.10.2016

Russian position on OPCW-UN JIM report on Syria (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

Recently, the OPCW-UN Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) has presented to the UN Security Council its third report, in which it concluded that the Syrian Armed Forces were allegedly involved in two cases of use of chemical weapons in Syria. While appreciating the significant amount of work done by the JIM and its experts, conclusions drawn by its Leadership Panel are hardly convincing. It has become obvious that due to objective reasons it had very little chance to conduct an effective investigation. One of the main problems was lack of access to the locations due to the dire security situation on the ground.

There are also other factors that have seriously affected the quality of the investigation, including that it was carried out in some cases more than two years after the incident, some of the information materials were misleading, and sources of information were of secondary or tertiary nature. The accusation against Damascus is mostly based on the testimonies of the “witnesses” handpicked by opposition NGO’s, and the assumption that nobody but the government forces in Syria have access to aircraft, which could be used to drop barrel bombs filled with chlorine.

Taking into consideration the gaps and inconsistencies in the report, one may conclude that there is insufficient evidence to state that any party, be it the Government of Syria or even ISIL, was undoubtfully involved in the use of chemical weapons. It is also necessary to ask ourselves, what is the motive behind
such insignificant, from a military point of view, use of chlorine as a chemical weapon? Such acts serve no purpose for Damascus in view of its possession of much more destructive conventional weapons and especially given the fact that no military operations to recapture towns mentioned in the report followed the incidents. Apart from the fact that such acts carry a clear hallmark of propaganda tailored for putting the blame on the Syrian government at pivotal moments of the ongoing civil conflict.

There are talks about the need to impose sanctions against Damascus on the basis of the JIM's conclusions. There is no ground for such action which, above all, might be extremely detrimental for efforts aimed at a political settlement.

For more than two years Russia has been trying to draw attention of the international community to the fact that terrorist organizations have repeatedly used chemical weapons in Syria and Iraq. Together with China we proposed to adopt a brief and pragmatic UNSC resolution, which would have constituted a first step towards solving this issue. Considerations of a strictly political nature on the part of some of colleagues in the Council have caused the international community to lose a minimum of two years that could have been spent in developing measures to address the threats and challenges of chemical terrorism.

Unfortunately, the time lost in pointless political rhetoric has also affected the work of both the OPCW and the JIM, and made it much harder for them to execute their respective mandates. Even now some of the proponents of imposing sanctions against Damascus blatantly call to turn a blind eye to chemical crimes committed by ISIL. Despite of this shortsighted policy the time has come for serious action to address this problem.




LATEST EVENTS

15.05.2017 - There can be only political solutions on the Korean peninsula (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

There is no doubt that what we are living through in present is one of the most dramatic developments on the Korean peninsula showing that the threat of confrontation is moving into its hottest phase than ever before. The belligerent rhetoric coupled with reckless muscle-flexing has led to a dangerous situation where one careless step can lead to the most terrible consequences.


11.05.2017 - The OPCW investigation of Khan-Sheikhoun chemical incident: how credible? (Article by Ambassador Yakovenko for The Daily Telegraph)

Unfortunately, there is still no proper reaction by the OPCW to the alleged use of sarin in Khan Sheikhoun of 4 April. The work of the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) to Syria is shrouded in secrecy. What is clear is that it continues to operate in a remote mode, using Internet data mostly concocted by the radical elements of the Syrian opposition, including the notorious “White Helmets”. From the scarce information one can gather that the samples taken from those injured or dead were tested in the OPCW-licensed laboratories in Britain and Turkey and established to be sarin or sarin-like substance. However, the samples were not taken at the site of the incident, but, it appears, in the Turkish territory, to which the injured and the bodies of the dead were taken. Hence the basic principle of the investigation, that of the chain of custody, hasn’t been observed. There are no answers on that from our Western partners. As there is no clear evidence that those people were from Khan Sheikhoun and not from somewhere else.


02.05.2017 - Investigation into Khan Sheikhoun: rules-based order tested by Western scheming (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

There is still no proper reaction by the OPCW to the alleged use of sarin in Khan Sheikhoun in Syria on 4 April. Unfortunately, the work of the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) to Syria is shrouded in secrecy. What is clear is that it continues to operate in a remote mode, using Internet data mostly concocted by the radical elements of the Syrian opposition, including the notorious “White Helmets”. From the scarce information one can gather that the samples taken from those injured or dead were tested in the OPCW-licensed laboratories in Britain and Turkey and established to be sarin or sarin-like substance. However, the samples were not taken at the site of the incident. Hence the basic principle of the investigation, that of the chain of custody, hasn’t been observed. There are no answers on that from our Western partners. As there is no clear evidence that those people were from Khan Sheikhoun and not from somewhere else.


28.04.2017 - UK is blocking independent international investigation into Khan Sheikhoun incident (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

On April 18, in response to a statement by Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson on British experts at Porton Down lab having analyzed some samples taken at the site of the chemical incident in Khan Sheikhoun, we have asked the Foreign Office to provide us with the information on its unilateral investigation. In particular, we requested information on what kind of samples and where were taken and whether the OPCW’s key requirement of chain of custody was observed during the collection of evidence. If the British side had access to the scene of the incident, why wouldn’t it provide such an access for the OPCW experts? We have not received any reply so far.


31.03.2017 - Liberation of Mosul: a new catastrophe? (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

We are deeply concerned over the deteriorating plight of the civilians in Mosul, who are paying an excessively high price for their liberation from terrorists. We have seen devastating consequences of the first phase of the military operation in the eastern districts of Mosul, where the Coalition applied doubtful tactics to push terrorists out of the city. Those efforts led to deplorable results: at least 1,500 civilians were killed and over 160,000 were displaced. During that brutal fighting about 60 percent of administrative buildings, 90 percent of transport infrastructure, 15 percent of residential buildings and 30 percent of schools were ruined.


06.03.2017 - The growing Russian economy is increasingly open for business (article by Ambassador Yakovenko for The Daily Telegraph, 6 March 2017)

Tough challenges, including weak global growth, low energy prices and Western sanctions have been used by the Russian Government as incentives to make difficult, but sound decisions to keep our economy in shape. Most of the problems have been overcome, and we have adapted to the new, tougher trade and economic environment, that some call deglobalisation.


21.02.2017 - Remembering Ambassador Churkin (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

Work in New York, at a mission to the United Nations differs a lot from any Embassy. Especially so for a mission of a nation-permanent member of the Security Council. The last ten years, when Vitaly Churkin represented Russia at the UN, undoubtedly where the most busy and strenuous, given the War in Iraq, intervention in Libya, the crises in Syria and Ukraine. On all these issues there were serious differences between major powers, which increased demand for multilateral diplomacy. On many occasions those were non-stop, marathon sessions aimed at reaching consensus, finding some common ground as a basis for international action.


03.02.2017 - MEPP: inter-Palestinian conference in Moscow (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

On 15-17 January in Moscow there was held an inter-Palestinian informal meeting organized by the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Representatives of the main Palestinian organizations were present, including Fatah, Hamas, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General Command, the Palestinian National Initiative, the Palestinian People’s Party, the Palestinian Popular Struggle Front, the Palestinian Democratic Union and others.


03.02.2017 - Deal is straightforward yet Kiev drags its feet (by Ambassador Yakovenko for FT)

Sir, The latest flare-up in eastern Ukraine is just more evidence of the Kiev government choosing war over reform (Letters, February 1). It has been dragging its feet over implementation of its part of the Minsk 2 accords reached by the Normandy Four two years ago.


01.02.2017 - Crimea and Minsk Agreements: what the British media would not tell? (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

The recent escalation in eastern Ukraine is again presented in the British media as Russia’s attempt to wage a proxy hybrid war against Kiev’s pro-western leadership. For fear of an eventual improvement in Russia-US relationships they pray for the sanctions against Russia to stay unless the Minsk Agreements are implemented as well as a punishment for the “Russia’s annexation of Crimea”. Let me set the record straight on that.



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