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AMBASSADOR'S ARTICLES

07.07.2017

The chemical incident in Khan Sheikhoun: why is the West not interested in the truth? (by Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko)

There are speculations about the chemical incident in Khan Sheikhoun on April 4 flared up by the recent report by the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission in Syria (FFMS). On the surface, this report looks somewhat respectable, has been welcomed by some countries as a “highly professional” piece of work and even hailed to have provided incontestable evidence of Damascus’ guilt for the “chemical attack”.

Russia’s assessments of this document are much more reserved. Its quality leaves much to be desired and let me explain why we think so.

First of all, it did not honour the basic chain-of-custody principle: FFMS’ experts failed to obtain on-site biomedical and environmental samples, as is required by the standard procedure. The samples were obtained in another country and from other people. Will it stand scrutiny in a court of law, or is it a kangaroo court, we’ve got to put up with?

Secondly, the report contains no information on how exactly sarin was used. It merely notes that members of the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission were unable to reach any definite conclusions on this matter, although this aspect is a key element of establishing the truth.

Thirdly, the results of the investigation would be much more complete if OPCW experts actually visited the Shayrat Airbase where the sarin, used in Khan Sheikhoun, was allegedly stored. It is not only us who insisted on this but also the Government of Syria that pledged to guarantee complete safety. Unfortunately, OPCW representatives wouldn’t make from this trip under a pretext that doesn’t hold water.

Against this backdrop, Washington’s claims that the Syrians were allegedly once again planning to use the Shayrat Airbase for a chemical attack look odd, to say the least. If US partners are really confident about this, then they should grab the chance to visit this facility to obtain evidence they want. But they continue to emphatically refuse to do this.

From the very beginning, Russia considered it necessary to pay serious attention to the probability that the incident was staged. But the OPCW FFM report completely overlooks this aspect. At the same time, available photo and video materials deserve to be studied, not ignored. And it’s not just Russia, who has doubts. Independent experts, including from US, are pointing at multiple conflicting data. Massachusetts Institute of Technology Professor Theodore A. Postol has conducted the appropriate technical analysis refuting the free-fall bomb theory. On June 29, 2017, Scott Ritter, an outstanding US expert on disarmament and chemical weapons, published a detailed article on this topic in The American Conservative.

We believe that a more thorough investigation should be immediately launched to establish the truth. In particular, it is necessary to focus on learning how this poisonous gas was delivered to the site of the incident. The international community deserves better than being duped by terrorists, whose invasion of Syria 5 years ago started the tragedy in their country.




LATEST EVENTS

19.10.2017 - Why to fight with memorials (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

The campaign in Poland against World War II memorials to Soviet officers and soldiers, who had liberated the country from the Nazi occupation, is gaining momentum. Warsaw has created a legal framework allowing the disposal of Soviet/Russian memorial objects or taking them out of public sight, including the most widespread monuments of gratitude to the Red Army. Why?


18.10.2017 - Syria: collective humanitarian efforts, not sanctions, are needed more than ever (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

The situation in Syria is undergoing serious transformation. Due to the de-escalation process, it has now become possible to drastically reduce the level of violence, to improve the humanitarian situation as well as to fight terrorists more efficiently. The ISIS-controlled territory is shrinking. On 14-15 September, at the international meeting in Astana all four de-escalation zones were finalized.


05.10.2017 - What You Have to Know about Status of Crimea (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

The coup d’état in Kiev in February 2014 backed by the West tore up the constitutional space in Ukraine. The legitimate President of the country was overthrown. It was marked by a severe lack of democracy and violence that posed a direct threat to the well-being of Russian-speaking population of Crimea. Citizens of Crimea faced the choice of becoming an oppressed minority or severing their ties with the hostile regime to secure a future for themselves and their children. The decision to hold a referendum was made by legitimate local authorities. The independence of Crimea was proclaimed and an appeal to enter the Russian Federation was made based on the indisputable results of the popular vote. Standards of international law were fully observed as the right of nations to self-determination enshrined in the UN Charter was exercised freely by the Crimeans. Crimea was recognized as an independent and sovereign state by Russia and on 18 March 2014 in Moscow the two countries signed a Treaty of Unification, under which the Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol became two new regions - subjects of the Russian Federation.


05.10.2017 - NATO increased military presence in Europe: road to nowhere (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

As part of the implementation of the conclusions of the NATO Summit in Warsaw, four multinational battlegroups have been deployed in Poland, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia with the total number of troops exceeding 4500. The idea of creating similar rotating units in Bulgaria and Romania in 2018 is being widely discussed by NATO members. If put together, these battlegroups amount to a motorized infantry brigade with heavy weapons.


30.09.2017 - Russia’s initiative on protecting SMM OSCE in South-East of Ukraine (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

On 5th September, at the 9th BRICS Summit in Xiamen President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin has announced an initiative to establish the United Nations Mission on Support in Protecting the Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) OSCE in the South-East of Ukraine.


25.09.2017 - Eurasian Economic Union today (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

Though hardly noticeable in the Western media, the Eurasian economic cooperation is booming, with the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) becoming an increasingly effective integration project. The unique format of enhanced economic coordination along with the EAEU member states’ retained political sovereignty and cultural identity is proving itself.


25.09.2017 - On Russia's assistance to Central Asia (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

Russia attaches great importance to the issue of sustainable development as it is underlined by the UN. Among our priorities in this area is the development of Central Asia. We contribute to the development of this region on a regular basis, regardless of the global economic crisis and its negative effect on Russia’s economy. In today’s world, international aid is often politically motivated and aimed at exerting one’s influence. Russia has a different approach.


25.09.2017 - IX BRICS Summit – turning into a global organisation (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

The 9th BRICS summit in Xiamen, China, has emphasized the proximity of positions of the member states on the current global problems. It demonstrated that over the last 10 years BRICS has grown into a full-fledged international mechanism for global cooperation.


08.09.2017 - SCO sets standards for countering extremism (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

In June 2017, the leaders of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) signed the SCO Convention on Countering Extremism, which will help strengthen the international legal framework to address new challenges and threats as well as increase the effectiveness of cooperation between relevant authorities of the member states and to improve legislation in this area.


07.09.2017 - No alternative to a peace settlement on the Korean Peninsula (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

Russia is deeply concerned over the situation on the Korean Peninsula, where confrontation is moving into its hottest phase than ever before. North Korea continues to violate UN Security Council resolutions.



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