20 October 2017
Moscow: 21:02
London: 19:02

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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.


20.10.2017 - Meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club

Vladimir Putin took part in the final plenary session of the 14th annual meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club titled The World of the Future: Moving Through Conflict to Cooperation. Read the transcript.

17.10.2017 - Visit to Scottish textile company Johnstons of Elgin

During a visit to Aberdeenshire on 29th of September 2017 Consul General of Russia in Edinburgh Andrey A.Pritsepov visited the largest company producing cashmere and woolen cloth Johnstons of Elgin where he had a meeting with the management of the company and enjoyed a mill tour.

17.10.2017 - Visit to University of Aberdeen

On 29 of September 2017 during the trip to Aberdeen Consul General of Russia in Edinburgh Andrey A.Pritsepov visited University of Aberdeen and met with the Vice-Principal on Internationalization Professor John Paterson. They discussed issues of developing ties with higher educational institutions in Russia and prospects for cooperation in the field of remote medicine. The mutual interest in closer interaction in the training of engineering personnel for science-intensive and high-tech areas was emphasized.

16.10.2017 - First Deputy Foreign Minister Vladimir Titov’s answer to a media question regarding British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson’s visit to Russia

Question: The Foreign Office announced yesterday that Secretary of State for Foreign & Commonwealth Affairs Boris Johnson would visit Russia. Do you have any comments to make on this?

11.10.2017 - Press release on Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov’s meeting with Deputy Foreign Minister of Afghanistan Hekmat Khalil Karzai

On October 10, Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov met with visiting Deputy Foreign Minister of Afghanistan Hekmat Khalil Karzai, who arrived in Moscow to attend the SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group meeting.

11.10.2017 - Foreign Ministry statement on the situation in the Autonomous Community of Catalonia, Spain

Guided by the fundamental principles of international law, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation views the developments in Catalonia as the internal affair of Spain.

10.10.2017 - Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s opening remarks at the expanded meeting of the CIS Foreign Ministers Council, Sochi, October 10, 2017

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s opening remarks at the expanded meeting of the CIS Foreign Ministers Council, Sochi, October 10, 2017

10.10.2017 - Press release on Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s telephone conversation with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson

On October 9, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov spoke by phone with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at the latter’s initiative.

09.10.2017 - Russian Energy Week Forum plenary session

President Putin attended a plenary session of the first Russian Energy Week (REW) Energy Efficiency and Energy Development International Forum.

09.10.2017 - Comment by the Information and Press department on the upcoming meeting of the CIS Council of Foreign Ministers

On October 10, a regular meeting of the CIS Council of Foreign Ministers will be held in Sochi within the framework of Russia’s CIS Chairmanship in 2017. The agenda is comprised of 18 topics covering a broad range of issues related to CIS cooperation. The CIS foreign ministers will discuss practical measures for promoting multilateral cooperation between the CIS countries and will exchange opinions on current international issues. The documents they will adopt following this meeting will be forwarded to the CIS Council of Heads of State.

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