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855 days have passed since the Salisbury incident - no credible information or response from the British authorities                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     847 days have passed since the death of Nikolay Glushkov on British soil - no credible information or response from the British authorities

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

03.07.2020 - Open Skies Clouded by Sham and Ambiguity (by Ambassador Andrei Kelin)

Ambassador Andrei Kelin's article published on the website of Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) on 2 July 2020.


02.12.2019 - Ambassador Andrei Kelin's interview to Sputnik News Agency

On 27 November, 2019 Ambassador Andrei Kelin gave an interview to Sputnik News Agency during the V Russian-British Business Forum.


15.08.2019 - The liberal "end of history": what's next?

Following an interview with President Vladimir Putin published by the Financial Times a month ago, the issue of the future “liberal world order” in its idealistic version has been part of London’s political discussion agenda, with the emphasis being put on moral and political leadership in the present-day world.


09.07.2019 - What has happened to Western liberal idea? (by Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko)

In the recent interview with President Putin, the Financial Times seems to have launched a discussion on liberalism only at its own peril. Inadvertently, a real problem was touched upon, whose pressing nature is no longer denied by anyone in the West. The newspaper had to admit it in its Editorial of 29 June. Its authors claim that the threat to liberalism comes from within, including President Trump and his policies, Brexit and, certainly, the rise of “populist nationalism”. They refer to voters’ disillusionment with liberalism and loss of confidence in the economic system and trust in political elites. The latter are invited to redouble their efforts to take into consideration issues raised by voters and “to renew liberalism”.


09.08.2018 - Letter from Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko to the Guardian’s editor

In response to the Ambassador Beruchashvili’s letter, offering not so much a recollection of the August 2008 events in the Caucasus, but rather a misleading reiteration of the Georgian claims against Russia I have to refer to some of the universally recognized facts and consequences resulting from those tragic events.


24.07.2018 - Eastern Economic Forum: the East is bright (by Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko)

When talking about Russia’s Far East, you invariably remember its stunning natural beauty, abundance in natural resources and vast territories. But when one thinks of its investments prospects, you also invariably remember its harsh climate, low average population density and the lack of transport and other infrastructure. But now the situation is changing fundamentally. The region is undergoing a huge and qualitative revival. The development of the region has been declared one of the national priorities for Russia. In the last 5 years 18 advanced development zones and 5 free ports have been established in the Russian Far East. Long-term tax exemptions have been provided for large investment projects. Paperless e-visas for visitors of Vladivostok are available for citizens of 18 countries.


03.05.2018 - SALISBURY: A CLASSIFIED CASE (by Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko)

On 4 March 2018 two Russian citizens Sergei and Yulia Skripal were reportedly poisoned in Salisbury, Wiltshire with the toxic chemical named A-234 under the British classification. On 12 March Foreign Secretary Johnson summoned me to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and said that Russia was “highly likely” responsible for the attack. He invited us to respond by the next day, whether this had been a direct act by the state or Russia had lost control over this nerve agent. The incident had international repercussions, including expulsion of 150 Russian diplomats from 28 countries, notwithstanding the fact that the charges were based on assumptions and unverifiable intelligence. The Western countries lost the same number of Moscow-based staff. Meanwhile, the British government provided no evidence either to the public, its allies or Russia. Subsequent events revealed that no proof of Russia’s involvement existed. On 1 May, National Security adviser Sir Mark Sedwill confirmed that (despite a number of previous leaks) no suspect had been identified, a statement that speaks for itself.


14.02.2018 - The international community needs a unified legal base to combat information crimes (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

Amid the rapid advance in technologies we face a growing number of cyber-crimes: in 2016, these offences caused damage of $445 billion and by 2020, according to experts, this figure can reach up to $3 trillion, exceeding the overall income received from the Internet.


26.01.2018 - UNGA: Glorification of Nazism must stop (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

In December the UN General Assembly (UNGA) adopted the traditional resolution on “Combating the glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance”. It was supported by an overwhelming majority of UN Member States: 133 states voted for this document, 57 became its co-sponsors, and only Ukraine and the United States voted against.


29.11.2017 - Afghan opium production jumps to record level (by Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko for RT)

According to the latest Afghanistan Opium Survey released by the Afghan Ministry of Counter Narcotics and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), in 2017 opium production in Afghanistan increased by 87 per cent to a record level of 9,000 metric tons. The area under opium poppy cultivation also grew by 63 per cent to its highest level of 328,000 hectares. Afghanistan is the world's top cultivator of the poppy from which opium and heroin are produced. The 2017 record levels of opium production and poppy cultivation create multiple challenges for the country, its neighbours and many other countries that serve as a transit for or a destination of Afghan opiates. The significant levels of opium poppy cultivation and illicit trafficking of opiates fuel instability, insurgency and increase funding to terrorist groups in Afghanistan.



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