18 November 2019
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624 days have passed since the Salisbury incident - no credible information or response from the British authorities                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     616 days have passed since the death of Nikolay Glushkov on British soil - no credible information or response from the British authorities



Statement by H.E. Ambassador Alexander Shulgin, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the OPCW, at the 92nd session of the OPCW Executive Council, The Hague, October 8, 2019

Mr Chairperson,

Mr Director General,

Ladies and gentlemen,

First, allow me to welcome Ambassador Andrea Perugini at the head of the Executive Council. We would like to assure you, Mr Chairperson, of our full support and readiness for constructive work so that this year’s last regular session of the council will be as successful as possible.

In November, we will review last year’s operations of the OPCW which, admittedly, is going through difficult times. We are approaching the next Conference of the States Parties with a pile of accumulated problems. I will briefly describe the major ones now.

Attribution. Almost a year and a half ago, a minority of participating States supported an unlawful decision to give the once purely technical organisation unnatural functions to identify those responsible for using chemical weapons. Russia is strongly opposed to a review of the OPCW mandate and encroachment on the exclusive competence of the UN Security Council.

But this is not the most serious concern for us. The Investigation and Identification Team (IIT) formed at the OPCW accepts the dubious findings of the Fact Finding Mission (FFM) in Syria and relies on them in its work. We will say a few words about that special mission later. But in this case, here are the facts: the FFM reports, some of them quite questionable, have been accepted by the IIT. The conclusions in these reports leave little chance that the conclusions of the attributive mechanism will be objective.

We are also alarmed that all IIT investigations are conducted behind the scenes and in a non-transparent manner. The participating states receive almost no information about what this team is doing; they are not familiar with the methods and modalities of its work, the principles for selecting personnel, or even with its terms of reference.

A recent briefing in Syria organised by the Technical Secretariat is a typical example. What did we hear there? Nothing specific. It was a closed-door briefing, and the participating states were entitled to receive complete data on the IIT’s work. It turns out that the IIT, being an integral part of the Technical Secretariat, which, as you know, is accountable to the Executive Council, operates almost autonomously and outside the control of this governing body. This is absolutely unacceptable, contrary to the spirit and letter of the Convention.

Now about the FFM. While recognising the importance and scope of the work done by the mission, we and our Syrian colleagues have repeatedly criticised it, primarily pointing out its frequent departures from the principles and provisions set forth in the OPCW Convention and regulatory documents. But each time we say that, we encounter a “wall of misunderstanding” and a refusal to discuss the existing issues factually. Just look at the investigation into the chemical incident in the city of Douma on April 7, 2018. A logical question arises: how can we build further work, how can we find out the truth when we see no willingness for discussion or openness? We would like to encourage the delegations to seriously and thoroughly discuss the work of the FFM which is included on the agenda. We are ready for this.

I would like to say a few words about other aspects of the so-called Syrian “chemical file.” At one time we supported the approach of the Technical Secretariat to the discussion of this set of problems through a structured dialogue. We consider it important to discuss all issues in strict conformity with the Chemical Weapons Convention and without any preconditions related to attribution innovations. But why are there such long intervals in this work? The dynamics are gone.

At the same time we welcome the intention of the Director General to hold a regular round of consultations with Damascus in the upcoming weeks and hope that progress will be reached there.

As for countering chemical terrorism, Russian representatives have said many times that the OPCW has a fairly limited potential for this because it is not an antiterrorist organisation. But we think that even this modest potential is not used in full. The OPCW has the working group on terrorism and the sub-working group on non-state actors. However, at their meetings we hear what counterterrorism efforts are made by other international organisations and what seminars and conferences are attended by employees of the Technical Secretariat. But when will we start talking about the substance of the matter – how to use our own potential?

Syria regularly submits reports to the Technical Secretariat on the activities of terrorist and extremist groups with access to toxic chemicals on its territory. The role of the OPCW is to prevent the use and dissemination of chemical weapons. Shouldn’t it act as an early warning system? If it discusses the preparations of terrorists in public it will be much more difficult for them to carry out their evil plans.

We are very concerned about this year’s work on the 2020 OPCW draft programme and budget. The consultations between the States Parties and the Technical Secretariat revealed serious differences on the concept of the so-called omnibus draft decision.

Like other delegations, we objected to the proposed package option. The OPCW regular budget and the distribution of cash balance are two completely different things and can’t be put in the same basket. These issues are regulated by different provisions of the financial rules and are independent of each other. Yet, this is being done stubbornly, and our concerns are ignored. The omnibus draft is submitted to the Executive Council and presented as the only option without any alternatives.

We assume that the Executive Council plays a very important role in the budget process. Its decisions are a guide for the Conference of the States Parties (CSP). It should make recommendations on the programme and budget documents based on consensus. But there is no consensus at this point. We think the Executive Council is simply not ready to make a decision on the whole package of budget-related issues. We need to continue the consultations in between sessions and try to resolve the problem before the CSP November session.

Another issue that resulted in some discord was the initiative of the United States, Great Britain, Canada, Germany, the Czech Republic and Japan on changing the rules of procedure of the Advisory Body on Administrative and Financial Matters (ABAF). Like a number of other delegations in this hall, we cannot agree to some individual provisions of the document submitted for consideration to the Executive Council. First, we believe that the States Parties have an inalienable right to appoint those experts to the ABAF whom they consider qualified and generally suitable for the job. Second, an opportunity to remove any objectionable expert from the ABAF will create a precedent for other international organisations and could undermine the status of ABAF as an independent body that is relied upon to give unbiased recommendations. In harmonising the ABAF Rules of Procedure, we need to take into account the best practices of the independent administrative and budget bodies of other international organisations. In this connection, we presented our amendments to the draft and started discussing them with the authors of this initiative and other interested parties with a view to reaching consensus.

Mr Chairperson,

I would not like to end my report on this low note. There are many items on the OPCW agenda on which we can work based on consensus.

Recently, an important step was taken towards establishing OPCW control over new highly toxic chemicals. Two proposals will be submitted to the 24th CSP session. The first is Russian and the second is presented jointly by the United States, Canada and the Netherlands. They concern additions to Schedule 1 substances listed in the Chemical Weapons Convention. We would like to use this opportunity to inform the member states of the Executive Council of the progress achieved in this area in between sessions, which will become part of the preparations for discussing this issue at the CSP session.

As for other items on the agenda, the Russian delegation will discuss them during the current session in order of priority.

I would like you to distribute this report as an official document of the 92nd session of the OPCW Executive Council.



13.11.2019 - Article by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov for the media of the BRICS countries "BRICS Strategic Partnership for Global Stability, Shared Security and Innovative Growth", November 12, 2019

On November 13–14, 2019, Brasilia will host the 11th BRICS Summit. In the run-up to this key event of the year for our group I would like to share Russia's vision of the BRICS strategic partnership. The current Brazilian BRICS Chairmanship managed to achieve serious progress in all main pillars of cooperation – political, economic and humanitarian. Russia supports its Brazilian friends in their efforts to improve the practical impact of our multifaceted interaction on the prosperity of our States and peoples.

13.11.2019 - Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to questions at the Masterclass working session held as part of the 2019 Paris Peace Forum, Paris, November 12, 2019

Thank you for coming to this panel. For the sake of time, my introductory remarks will be brief.

12.11.2019 - Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to media questions during a joint news conference with Minister of Foreign Affairs of Armenia Zohrab Mnatsakanyan, Yerevan, November 11, 2019

Mr Mnatsakanyan, First of all, I would like thank our Armenian friends for the invitation on behalf of my delegation and myself, for the very cordial welcome and substantive negotiations that began today with a meeting with Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan and continued at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

06.11.2019 - Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to media questions at a joint news conference following talks with Foreign Minister of the Republic of Burundi Ezechiel Nibigira, Moscow, November 5, 2019

Good afternoon, The meeting with my Burundian colleague Ezechiel Nibigira took place in a warm and friendly atmosphere. We enjoy friendly relations based on the principles of international law, respect for mutual interests and deep historical sympathy that our peoples have for each other.

01.11.2019 - Permanent Representative of Russia to the OSCE Alexander Lukashevich’s interview with Rossiyskaya Gazeta, October 29, 2019

Question: Mr Lukashevich, I would like to start with a difficult question. The people seldom understand the role and importance of such institutions as the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). They believe that it is all talk and little action, apart from that of the adoption of resolutions. This is partly true. Are there too many international organisations that are hardly having any influence on realities? And it also costs a fortune to maintain them.

01.11.2019 - Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to media questions at a joint news conference following talks with OSCE Secretary General Thomas Greminger, Moscow, October 31, 2019

Ladies and gentlemen, We have held constructive, substantive and very detailed talks with OSCE Secretary General Thomas Greminger. This is his second visit to Moscow this year. We welcome the regular nature of our contacts.

01.11.2019 - Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s opening remarks at talks with OSCE Secretary General Thomas Greminger, Moscow, October 31, 2019

Mr Secretary General, my dear Thomas, Colleagues, We are delighted that you have come to Russia again. We reaffirm our support for your efforts to enhance the efficiency of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). We see that your team is really focused on formulating a unifying agenda of the organisation and on restoring trust between the member states which has been seriously undermined.

29.10.2019 - Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s article about Yevgeny Primakov from the book titled The Unknown Primakov: Memoirs, published in Russian Business Guide, October 2019

Of special importance for us diplomats was the period in Yevgeny Primakov’s life when he was our foreign minister. His appointment to Smolenskaya Square marked a turning point in the country’s foreign policy when conditions were created for the restoration of Russia’s international standing. Primakov knew better than many others that its unique geographical location and centuries-long history, as well as its huge potential and its status as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, predetermined its independent and multi-directional foreign policy.

24.10.2019 - Sergey Lavrov’s article for the Aftenposten daily, Norway, Russia-Norway Relations: A Common Past and a Pragmatic Future, 23 October 2019

At the moment, Norway is celebrating the liberation of East-Finnmark from Nazi occupation. We honour the feat of valour committed by the Soviet soldiers, participants in the resistance movement and partisans, who drove the Nazi occupation forces from the Norwegian land 75 years ago.

23.10.2019 - Deputy Foreign Minister Andrey Rudenko’s interview with Rossiya Segodnya International Information Agency, October 22, 2019

Question: Ukraine is not implementing the Steinmeier formula despite having signed it. Will a Normandy format summit be held if this does not happen, if there is no disengagement of forces? Is it realistic to conduct this summit in November? Will the sides manage to draft all the terms in time? Andrey Rudenko: Russia said more than once that the full implementation of the agreements of the previous summits which were held in Paris and Berlin in 2015−2016 should be a prerequisite of the Normandy format meeting. This primarily applies to the documentation of the Steinmeier formula and the disengagement of forces and hardware in three regions (Zolotoye, Petrovskoye and Stanitsa Luganskaya) on the contact line. In addition to this, a new summit should clearly formulate further steps on the implementation of the Minsk Agreements.

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