21 September 2020
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932 days have passed since the Salisbury incident - no credible information or response from the British authorities                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     924 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.



18.09.2020 - Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview with RTVI television, Moscow, September 17, 2020

Question: I’ll start with the hottest topic, Belarus. President of the Republic of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko visited Bocharov Ruchei. Both sides have officially recognised that change within the Union State is underway. This begs the question: What is this about? A common currency, common army and common market? What will it be like? Sergey Lavrov: It will be the way our countries decide. Work is underway. It relies on the 1999 Union Treaty. We understand that over 20 years have passed since then. That is why, a couple of years ago, upon the decision of the two presidents, the governments of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus began to work on identifying the agreed-upon steps that would make our integration fit current circumstances. Recently, at a meeting with Russian journalists, President Lukashenko said that the situation had, of course, changed and we must agree on ways to deepen integration from today’s perspective.

15.09.2020 - Excerpt from Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview with RTVI TV channel, Moscow, September 14, 2020

Question: You have been the Foreign Minister of Russia for 16 years now and had to deal with the most serious challenges of this century. Sanctions were imposed. We began to adapt to them and survived them. Germany announced that it has received the results of Alexey Navalny’s tests. France and Sweden confirmed the presence of the Novichok agent in them. Do you think Navalny’s case may become the driver of new anti-Russia sanctions?

14.09.2020 - Foreign Minster Sergey Lavrov’s answers to questions from the Moscow, Kremlin, Putin programme Moscow, September 13, 2020

Question: Given the serious tensions in the world today, differences sometimes can also arise between the member states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. Can the SCO format help smooth over these differences?

12.09.2020 - Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to media questions at a joint news conference following talks with member of the State Council and Foreign Minister of China Wang Yi, Moscow, September 11, 2020

Ladies and gentlemen, Today’s talks with my colleague and friend, member of the State Council and Foreign Minister of China Wang Yi, were held in an atmosphere of mutual respect and trust and were very substantial.

11.09.2020 - Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to media questions at the press conference following the SCO Foreign Ministers Council Meeting, Moscow, September 10, 2020

We have completed the Meeting of the Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Member States. It was very fruitful. We approved a press release expressing our views on general political matters, so I will not elaborate too much on these subjects.

10.09.2020 - Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to media questions at a joint news conference following talks with Foreign Minister of Kazakhstan Mukhtar Tleuberdi, Moscow, September 9, 2020

Ladies and gentlemen, We have had very constructive talks as part of the regular communications between our countries’ foreign ministers. Back in June, we held several in-depth meetings via videoconference, but today we had an in-person meeting in order to prepare for the large-scale bilateral events scheduled for this year. These are to be held during the Russia-Kazakhstan Interregional Cooperation Forum and the 65th anniversary celebrations of the Baikonur Cosmodrome, which is our shared pride, as well as during the preparations of the upcoming meeting of the co-chairs of the Intergovernmental Commission on Economic Cooperation and subsequently during the plenary meeting of this important structure.

10.09.2020 - Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s opening remarks at the official reception for the SCO Foreign Ministers Council, Moscow, September 9, 2020

We have gathered here and will start our work now. Our main task is to prepare for the meeting of the Heads of State Council, as President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin just said. The summit is bound to become the key event of Russia’s chairmanship. In our work, we are primarily guided by the Russian chairmanship’s action plan, which was endorsed by the President of Russia and approved by the other heads of state.

09.09.2020 - Foreign Ministry statement on the situation around Alexei Navalny

In connection with the demarche undertaken by the Group of Seven on the ‘Alexei Navalny case’, the Foreign Ministry has issued the following statement. Russia insists that Germany provide data on Alexei Navalny’s medical examination, including the results of the biochemical tests, as per the official request for legal assistance submitted by the Office of the Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation on August 27, 2020. Berlin has not been willing to respond to our repeated requests in a prompt and constructive manner.

08.09.2020 - Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to media questions during a joint news conference with Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Yury Borisov and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates of the Syrian Arab Republic Walid Muallem following talks, Damascus, September 7, 2020

Ladies and gentlemen, The current visit of our delegation is primarily devoted to discussing the prospects for the further development of cooperation between Russia and the Syrian Arab Republic in the new conditions that have developed within the country, in the region and in the world as a whole. The key aspect of the current stage is based on the fact that Syria, including with the support of the Russian Federation, has withstood the fight against international terrorism and the forces that hatched the plan to destroy Syrian statehood.

07.09.2020 - Press release on ASEM Ministerial Statement on COVID-19 by Russia, EU, Germany, Singapore and Cambodia

On September 7, 2020 the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Statement on COVID-19 was adopted by the Foreign Ministers of Russia, EU, Germany and Singapore as ASEM Regional Coordinators and Cambodia as the Host of the 13th ASEM Summit with support of all ASEM partners. In the face of the coronavirus pandemic, which caused unprecedented damages to life, health and well-being of ASEM nations, the Ministers reaffirmed commitment to continue joint steps to fight the disease and experience sharing in order to control and prevent its further spreading. They commended healthcare personnel and volunteers working in the frontline of the outbreak.

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