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SPEECHES, INTERVIEWS, ARTICLES

28.08.2013

Military option in Syria: Between crime and blunder at the expense of a peaceful solution? (by Alexander Yakovenko, Russian Ambassador to UK, for Russia Today)

Washington, London and Paris are saying they have incontrovertible evidence the Syrian government was behind the chemical attack near Damascus, and that the "red line" has been crossed. Now we are hearing calls for a military option. All too reminiscent of the reckless action that was taken by the US and its allies ten years ago, bypassing the UN Security Council. Disastrous consequences of military involvement in Syria will follow in more blood spilt and bring closer the prospect of regional conflagration. What if "designer strikes" in Syria increase the probability of chemical weapons falling into the wrong hands? Or create poisonous fallout all over the region? Undoubtedly, these actions will further escalate the already explosive situation.

No reliable, clear or convincing evidence has been produced to confirm even what chemical weapons were used, let alone who did it. Neither have we seen even a remotest legal grounds for military action. If 100% proof or legitimacy are deemed impossible, then what percentage of both the international community and public opinion have to put up with?

So far the alleged use of WMD looks much like a provocation with those behind turning it into a casus belli without any proof presented to the public. Besides, one has a lot to question about the opposition's version of events in Ghouta. There is information that videos of atrocities were posted on the internet hours before the purported attack. We have other doubts as well. One has to ask: cui bono? We see no rationale in government forces using chemical weapons just at the very moment when the UN fact-finding mission arrived in Syria. International experts quoted by British media have pointed at inconsistencies in victims' symptoms and at the fact that medical staff were treating those affected without any individual chemical protection.

At the same time, it is clear that those involved in the incident wanted to sabotage the Geneva peace talks. One cannot but recall that the government has long ago declared its readiness to negotiate, while the opposition hasn't followed suit. Today, some external players cannot help being seen deliberately undermining the very prospect of peaceful political process.

Instead of taking ill-considered military action, piling up more deaths and destruction, we propose a substantial and thorough exchange of available data on any cases of alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria via UN expert channels. It is necessary to fully support the work of the UN fact-finding mission in Syria, the modalities of which have been agreed upon by the UN and the Government of Syria. Such support would fully correspond with the agreements reached by G8 leaders at Lough Erne. At this critical point all parties concerned including external players, have to act with maximum responsibility so as not to repeat the mistakes of the past. Otherwise we find ourselves in the Carroll/Orwellian world of head off/sentence first with due process to follow.

Energy spent to organize a military strike should rather be used to push the parties to the negotiating table.




LATEST EVENTS

17.01.2018 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's remarks at the unveiling of memorial plaque in Sayes Court Park

Dear Mayor, Dear Councillors, Lady Joan, Ladies and gentlemen, It is now 320 years ago that a truly remarkable man set foot in Deptford. As you know, the Russian Tsar Peter, later named the Great, visited Western Europe in 1697—1698 under the nickname of Peter Mikhailov, with his Grand Embassy. He was eager to find out about the latest achievements in science and technology and create new diplomatic alliances. Of course, England couldn’t escape his attention. He mostly studied shipbuilding at the famous Deptford Dockyard, but he also met King William III, and, reportedly, Isaac Newton. Peter’s landlord, the famous John Evelyn, was also a respected scientist – a founder member of the Royal Society.


13.12.2017 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's remarks at the Presentation of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia by Russia 2018 Local Organising Committee.

Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends, I am pleased to welcome you to the Russian Embassy at the Presentation of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia by Russia 2018 Local Organising Committee. It’s a common knowledge, that football is the most popular game in the world. It is an honour for us to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup for the first time in the history of our country. I believe that those who come to Russia to support their national teams will leave with unforgettable memories.


08.12.2017 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's remarks at the Roscosmos "Sputnik" exhibition launch at Rossotrudnichestvo

Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's remarks at the Roscosmos "Sputnik" exhibition launch at Rossotrudnichestvo (7 December 2017)


25.11.2017 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's remarks at the reception at the Embassy dedicated to Russian Film Week (24 November 2017)

Ladies and gentlemen, Dear friends First of all, I would like to pay tribute to the outstanding Russian opera singer Dmitri Hvorostovsky who passed away this week. In 2015 he gave a concert in this very hall. I am delighted to welcome you at our reception dedicated to the Russian Film Week and the environmental causes it champions. This year their charity partner is World Wide Fund for Nature, which runs many projects in Russia in coordination and with support of the Russian Government. Russia has a unique, fascinating wildlife. A number of this week’s films show the natural beauty of our land and are sure to raise awareness of how fragile this beauty is. We appreciate the WWF effort in Russia and worldwide and call on everybody to become a supporter, especially this year, marked as Year of Ecology in Russia.


20.11.2017 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's remarks at the launch of the Russian Film Week (19 November 2017)

Ladies and gentlemen, It is a pleasure for me to be at the opening of the second edition of the Russian Film Week here in London – which this year also spans to Cambridge and Edinburgh.


16.10.2017 - Unpublished letter to the Editor of The Times (sent 12 October)

Sir, If British MPs are free to speak out, wherever they wish, on any issue, why try to block their freedom of speech (“Helping Putin”, 11 October)? If a TV channel wants (and is legally bound) to present different points of view, why slam those who express these views? If the mere act of giving an interview to foreign media amounts to high treason, why does The Times interview Russian politicians without fear? And finally - while MPs critical of Russia are welcome guests on the Russian TV channel RT, does your paper give the same treatment to those critical of the paper’s owner? Konstantin Shlykov Press Secretary of the Embassy of the Russian Federation


25.09.2017 - PRESENTATION by Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk at the Christian Future of Europe Conference 22 September 2017, London

Your Eminences and Your Excellencies, dear Mr. Ambassador, conference organizers and participants, I cordially greet all of those gathered today at the Russian Embassy in London to partake in this conference dedicated to the question of the future of Christianity in Europe. This topic is not only not losing any of its relevance, but is resounding ever anew. Experts believe that today Christianity remains not only the most persecuted religious community on the planet, but is also encountering fresh challenges which touch upon the moral foundations of peoples' lives, their faith and their values. Recent decades have seen a transformation in the religious and ethnic landscape of Europe.


23.09.2017 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's remarks at presentation of the book "The Mystery of Repentance" held at the Russian Embassy

I’m glad to welcome you here to a discussion of two prominent hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Church of England, on Christian future of Europe.


12.09.2017 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's remarks at the exhibition opening (“Scythians: Warriors of ancient Siberia” 12 September, British Museum)

Today the British Museum and the State Hermitage of Saint-Petersburg are once again proving their unique world class by bringing a whole new civilization to London. Ancient, and almost mythical, but creative, powerful and very different from what we have all known about antiquity – the Scythians.


14.07.2017 - Letter of Consul General Mr Andrey Pritsepov to the Herald newspaper, published 13.07.2017

I NOTE a rather questionable article by Mark McLaughlin (“Russians lurking near Faslane to eavesdrop on nuclear submarines", The Herald, July 11). Do you really believe that 145 million Russians would elect a leader who would command his nuclear submarines to chase someone's sole and lonely operative U-boat which is firing missiles in the opposite direction or Type 45 destroyers with faulty engines or an aircraft carrier without aircraft on it, all of them being located in Scottish waters?



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