30 May 2017
Moscow: 06:42
London: 04:42

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Comment by the Embassy Press attaché

The Russian Federation fully shares the concern expressed by the OPCW and the UN regarding the alleged use of chemical weapons in Mosul, Iraq.

We have been following this situation since March 2013 when one of the first incidents involving the use of sarin gas against Syrian government troops and civilians was reported in Khan al-Assal. In this context, it is interesting what western experts are saying. They stated that after ISIS fighters occupied Mosul in the summer of 2014, they obtained access to a research library and laboratories of a local university, which greatly enhanced their capability to produce chemical weapons. ISIS counted among its members former Iraqi officers who were involved in Saddam Hussein’s chemical weapons programme, as well as certified chemistry experts from abroad. As for ISIS chemical weapons production facilities in Iraq, Iraqis themselves and representatives of the US-led anti-ISIS coalition reported the discovery of these facilities.

In this connection, we suggest that journalists forward their enquiries to the Iraqi authorities and the coalition command, who had publicly announced the killing of ISIS chemical weapons experts, former Iraqi officers Suleiman Daud al-Bakkar and Abu Malik. Last year, the coalition announced the capture of an ISIS chemical weapons production facility in the city of Hit in Iraq and the bombing of another “chemical facility” of that sort.

The recurring cases of chemical terrorism in the Middle East, including in Syria and Iraq, are a matter of grave concern. Not only do fighters from ISIS, Jabhat al-Nusra and other affiliated extremist groups have industrial and domestic toxic substances in their possession, such as chlorine, but also toxic weapons-grade agents, including mustard gas and sarin. There is no doubt whatsoever that the use of chemical weapons runs counter to the existing international rules and norms. All this confirms what we have been saying all along, that terrorists have the capability to produce and use chemical weapons.

I would like to draw your attention to the fact that national security threats have become a hotly debated issue in major European countries, the United States and across the world in general. There is nothing wrong with any country having a conversation on this topic. Unfortunately, the threat of terrorists using and producing chemical weapons, which is a global, not regional, issue, is not at the centre of these discussions. Non-state actors in Syria and Iraq were able to expand their cross-border terrorist activity, making it more systematic. Unfortunately, our worst fears are about to materialise. We have warned about it on multiple occasions. There is a threat of chemical terrorism spreading across the Middle East. Even though this may sound ironic (although this would be a very sad irony), we could use a hashtag #FMknew (i.e. “the Foreign Ministry knew”). Moreover, chemical terrorism could spill over into neighbouring regions.

This is a serious threat and it is real. We have to work on it. We hope that the Iraqi authorities will be proactive in dealing with it. Of course, Russia fully supports OPCW’s commitment to provide comprehensive assistance to Baghdad in investigating this incident.

In addition, we believe that the mandate of the UN-OPCW Joint Investigative Mechanism on chemical weapons use in Syria, renewed for one year under UN Security Council Resolution 2319, should be extended beyond Syria to territories exposed to the threat of chemical terrorism.

We strongly believe that those responsible for all crimes involving the use of chemical weapons should be identified and held accountable.

In broader terms, the fact that non-state actors are using chemical weapons for military and terrorist purposes with increased frequency shows that Russia came forward with a timely and urgent initiative when it proposed one year ago to draft an international convention on fighting chemical and biological terrorism as part of the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva. We hope that countries taking part in this Conference on Disarmament in Geneva will back this initiative.


29.05.2017 - Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s opening remarks during talks with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, Cairo, May 29, 2017

Let me once again express my condolences over the deadly terrorist attack in Minya Province. We know Egypt’s firmness in the fight against terrorism, and we are united in this struggle. I hope that we will strengthen our joint efforts here and expand the counterterrorist fight, which must be a common cause in which all stand united against this evil without applying double standards.

29.05.2017 - Comment by the Information and Press Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation on the Syrian "chemical dossier"

On May 23, the UNSC held its successive discussion on the state of affairs around the so-called Syrian "chemical dossier". The Western "troika" of permanent members of the UN Security Council sought to give an anti-Assad and anti Russian pronounced spin to this event. It was reconfirmed that these "exposers" of Damascus were not interested in establishing the truth in a crucial issue of who actually stood behind the alleged use of sarin on April 4, 2017, in the Syrian province of Idlib. Representatives of the United States, Great Britain and France have desperately resisted any attempt to figure out to what extent their verdict delivered "in absentia" about the allegedly undeniable responsibility of the Bashar Al-Assad Government for this chemical attack in Khan Sheikhoun was justified.

29.05.2017 - Comment by Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova on the continued hunger strike of Palestinian inmates in Israeli prison

Recently Palestinian-Israeli relations have been further strained by the negative developments concerning Palestinian inmates in Israel. Over 1,200 prisoners have taken part in an indefinite hunger strike since April 17. (According to the media, there are about 6,500 Palestinians in Israeli prisons.)

27.05.2017 - Ambassador Yakovenko takes part in Russo-British Chamber of Commerce Business Forum

On 25 May Russian Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko took part in the Russo-British Chamber of Commerce (RBCC) Business Forum in London. The event gathered a large number of Russian and British companies.

26.05.2017 - Briefing by Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova, Moscow, May 25, 2017

Over the past few days, we have noted with satisfaction the consolidation of positive trends in the military-political situation in Syria. This is directly related to the implementation of the memorandum on creating de-escalation zones in Syria, which was signed by Russian, Iranian and Turkish representatives at the international meeting on Syria in Astana on May 4.

26.05.2017 - Statement by Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the OSCE Alexander Lukashevich at the OSCE Permanent Council meeting on the situation in Ukraine and the need to implement the Minsk Agreements, Vienna, May 25, 2017

The situation in Ukraine is escalating. The domestic political struggle is intensifying, which takes the nation further away from settling the conflict and aggravates the contradictions in society. Such measures as the blockade of Donbass, the so-called de-communisation, rewriting history, the hunt for “separatists,” restrictions on information through banning Russian-language TV channels, websites and social networks are working against the peaceful settlement of the conflict. The list of such measures continues to expand.

25.05.2017 - Press release on the exchange of greetings between foreign ministers of Russia and Slovenia on the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations

On May 25, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Slovenia Karl Viktor Erjavec exchanged greetings on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two states.

24.05.2017 - Meeting of Vladimir Putin with FIFA President Gianni Infantino

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Infantino, we are glad that you have a positive view of Russia’s efforts to prepare for the FIFA World Cup and Confederations Cup.

23.05.2017 - Condolences to British Prime Minister Theresa May

President Vladimir Putin expressed his deep condolences to Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland Theresa May over the tragic consequences of the terrorist attack at the Manchester stadium.

23.05.2017 - Press release on the arbitral tribunal on the law of the sea (claim of Ukraine against the Russian Federation)

On 12 May the arbitral tribunal established under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea on the request of Ukraine claiming violation by the Russian Federation of this Convention held its first meeting. The arbitral tribunal presided by Judge Jin-Hyun Paik (Republic of Korea) considered, with the participation of representatives of the Russian Federation and Ukraine, the principal procedural documents that will govern the work of the tribunal.

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