Russia raps West's chemical propaganda on Syria

Russia raps West's chemical propaganda on Syria
Fri Jul 12, 2013 07:56:27

Russia's UN envoy has sharply criticized Western nations' "small propaganda storm in a glass of water" regarding allegations that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons against its own people.

Vitaly Churkin on Thursday said that the three Western nations were making accusations that are not worth taking seriously.

"We need to be looking to credible allegations," he told reporters, adding that the insistence on looking into other incidents besides Khan al-Assal was a "small propaganda storm in a glass of water."

Ambassador Vitaly Churkin on Tuesday presented UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon a Russian analysis that showed how a projectile containing sarin poisonous gas that hit Khan al-Assal in the northern Aleppo province on March 19, killing 26 civilians and military personnel, was fired by rebels. 

That report came after Syria allowed Russian experts to visit the site and take environmental samples for analysis.  

The United States, France and Britain, foes of Syria’s government, cast doubt on the Russian analysis and repeated their previous calls for a UN chemical investigation team to have unfettered access in Syria, not just Khan al-Assal.

"Unfortunately I think what our Western colleagues have been doing is trying to produce the maximum number of allegations with the minimum of credibility in an effort ... to create maximum problems for arranging such an investigation," Churkin said.

Syria has refused to allow the UN chemical investigation to visit anywhere but Khan al-Assal. Ban has insisted that the team, which is led by Ake Sellstrom of Sweden, be permitted to visit at least one other location, the city of Homs.

Syria’s government and the foreign-backed militants deny using chemical weapons but have accused each other of repeatedly deploying them.
Churkin also criticized a statement by US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki on Wednesday, who said Russia was blocking UN Security Council efforts to push for "an independent and credible investigation" of chemical attacks in Syria.

Churkin said Russia was working hard to bring about a proper UN probe, which he said was demonstrated by the fact that Sellstrom and UN disarmament chief Angela Kane have been invited by the Syrian government to Damascus to discuss their investigation. Sellstrom and Kane have accepted the invitation.

Churkin also accused Britain of leaking "confidential" information to reporters about a draft resolution proposed by London and based on a statement Moscow supported at last month's Group of Eight (G8) developed nations' summit in Belfast.

The G8 statement urged all parties to the conflict to grant access to the UN team "in order to conduct an objective investigation into reports of the use of chemical weapons." It also called for the investigators to "make their report and deliver it to the UN Security Council for their assessment."

Several Western diplomats on the 15-nation Security Council said Russia was blocking the draft resolution. Churkin confirmed that Moscow opposed it but said China had also rejected it.

"We thought that it was completely unreasonable and contrary to the G8 declaration," he said about the British draft resolution, noting that "you know how our British friends are - they even drive on the wrong side of the road."

On Wednesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov confirmed the use of chemical weapons by foreign-backed militants fighting against the Syrian government.

"Our experts took samples on the spot and studied them in the very lab which is certified by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and came to the conclusion that both the shell and the sarin it contained were home-made,” the Russian foreign minister said.

“According to our additional information, these shells and the substance were made last February in the Syrian territory which at that time was under the control of the Free Syrian Army and made by one of the affiliated armed groups,” Lavrov added.


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