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AMBASSADOR'S ARTICLES

07.07.2017

The chemical incident in Khan Sheikhoun: why is the West not interested in the truth? (by Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko)

There are speculations about the chemical incident in Khan Sheikhoun on April 4 flared up by the recent report by the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission in Syria (FFMS). On the surface, this report looks somewhat respectable, has been welcomed by some countries as a “highly professional” piece of work and even hailed to have provided incontestable evidence of Damascus’ guilt for the “chemical attack”.

Russia’s assessments of this document are much more reserved. Its quality leaves much to be desired and let me explain why we think so.

First of all, it did not honour the basic chain-of-custody principle: FFMS’ experts failed to obtain on-site biomedical and environmental samples, as is required by the standard procedure. The samples were obtained in another country and from other people. Will it stand scrutiny in a court of law, or is it a kangaroo court, we’ve got to put up with?

Secondly, the report contains no information on how exactly sarin was used. It merely notes that members of the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission were unable to reach any definite conclusions on this matter, although this aspect is a key element of establishing the truth.

Thirdly, the results of the investigation would be much more complete if OPCW experts actually visited the Shayrat Airbase where the sarin, used in Khan Sheikhoun, was allegedly stored. It is not only us who insisted on this but also the Government of Syria that pledged to guarantee complete safety. Unfortunately, OPCW representatives wouldn’t make from this trip under a pretext that doesn’t hold water.

Against this backdrop, Washington’s claims that the Syrians were allegedly once again planning to use the Shayrat Airbase for a chemical attack look odd, to say the least. If US partners are really confident about this, then they should grab the chance to visit this facility to obtain evidence they want. But they continue to emphatically refuse to do this.

From the very beginning, Russia considered it necessary to pay serious attention to the probability that the incident was staged. But the OPCW FFM report completely overlooks this aspect. At the same time, available photo and video materials deserve to be studied, not ignored. And it’s not just Russia, who has doubts. Independent experts, including from US, are pointing at multiple conflicting data. Massachusetts Institute of Technology Professor Theodore A. Postol has conducted the appropriate technical analysis refuting the free-fall bomb theory. On June 29, 2017, Scott Ritter, an outstanding US expert on disarmament and chemical weapons, published a detailed article on this topic in The American Conservative.

We believe that a more thorough investigation should be immediately launched to establish the truth. In particular, it is necessary to focus on learning how this poisonous gas was delivered to the site of the incident. The international community deserves better than being duped by terrorists, whose invasion of Syria 5 years ago started the tragedy in their country.




LATEST EVENTS

03.05.2018 - SALISBURY: A CLASSIFIED CASE (by Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko)

On 4 March 2018 two Russian citizens Sergei and Yulia Skripal were reportedly poisoned in Salisbury, Wiltshire with the toxic chemical named A-234 under the British classification. On 12 March Foreign Secretary Johnson summoned me to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and said that Russia was “highly likely” responsible for the attack. He invited us to respond by the next day, whether this had been a direct act by the state or Russia had lost control over this nerve agent. The incident had international repercussions, including expulsion of 150 Russian diplomats from 28 countries, notwithstanding the fact that the charges were based on assumptions and unverifiable intelligence. The Western countries lost the same number of Moscow-based staff. Meanwhile, the British government provided no evidence either to the public, its allies or Russia. Subsequent events revealed that no proof of Russia’s involvement existed. On 1 May, National Security adviser Sir Mark Sedwill confirmed that (despite a number of previous leaks) no suspect had been identified, a statement that speaks for itself.


14.02.2018 - The international community needs a unified legal base to combat information crimes (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

Amid the rapid advance in technologies we face a growing number of cyber-crimes: in 2016, these offences caused damage of $445 billion and by 2020, according to experts, this figure can reach up to $3 trillion, exceeding the overall income received from the Internet.


26.01.2018 - UNGA: Glorification of Nazism must stop (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

In December the UN General Assembly (UNGA) adopted the traditional resolution on “Combating the glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance”. It was supported by an overwhelming majority of UN Member States: 133 states voted for this document, 57 became its co-sponsors, and only Ukraine and the United States voted against.


29.11.2017 - Afghan opium production jumps to record level (by Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko for RT)

According to the latest Afghanistan Opium Survey released by the Afghan Ministry of Counter Narcotics and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), in 2017 opium production in Afghanistan increased by 87 per cent to a record level of 9,000 metric tons. The area under opium poppy cultivation also grew by 63 per cent to its highest level of 328,000 hectares. Afghanistan is the world's top cultivator of the poppy from which opium and heroin are produced. The 2017 record levels of opium production and poppy cultivation create multiple challenges for the country, its neighbours and many other countries that serve as a transit for or a destination of Afghan opiates. The significant levels of opium poppy cultivation and illicit trafficking of opiates fuel instability, insurgency and increase funding to terrorist groups in Afghanistan.


19.10.2017 - Why to fight with memorials (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

The campaign in Poland against World War II memorials to Soviet officers and soldiers, who had liberated the country from the Nazi occupation, is gaining momentum. Warsaw has created a legal framework allowing the disposal of Soviet/Russian memorial objects or taking them out of public sight, including the most widespread monuments of gratitude to the Red Army. Why?


18.10.2017 - Syria: collective humanitarian efforts, not sanctions, are needed more than ever (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

The situation in Syria is undergoing serious transformation. Due to the de-escalation process, it has now become possible to drastically reduce the level of violence, to improve the humanitarian situation as well as to fight terrorists more efficiently. The ISIS-controlled territory is shrinking. On 14-15 September, at the international meeting in Astana all four de-escalation zones were finalized.


05.10.2017 - What You Have to Know about Status of Crimea (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

The coup d’état in Kiev in February 2014 backed by the West tore up the constitutional space in Ukraine. The legitimate President of the country was overthrown. It was marked by a severe lack of democracy and violence that posed a direct threat to the well-being of Russian-speaking population of Crimea. Citizens of Crimea faced the choice of becoming an oppressed minority or severing their ties with the hostile regime to secure a future for themselves and their children. The decision to hold a referendum was made by legitimate local authorities. The independence of Crimea was proclaimed and an appeal to enter the Russian Federation was made based on the indisputable results of the popular vote. Standards of international law were fully observed as the right of nations to self-determination enshrined in the UN Charter was exercised freely by the Crimeans. Crimea was recognized as an independent and sovereign state by Russia and on 18 March 2014 in Moscow the two countries signed a Treaty of Unification, under which the Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol became two new regions - subjects of the Russian Federation.


05.10.2017 - NATO increased military presence in Europe: road to nowhere (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

As part of the implementation of the conclusions of the NATO Summit in Warsaw, four multinational battlegroups have been deployed in Poland, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia with the total number of troops exceeding 4500. The idea of creating similar rotating units in Bulgaria and Romania in 2018 is being widely discussed by NATO members. If put together, these battlegroups amount to a motorized infantry brigade with heavy weapons.


30.09.2017 - Russia’s initiative on protecting SMM OSCE in South-East of Ukraine (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

On 5th September, at the 9th BRICS Summit in Xiamen President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin has announced an initiative to establish the United Nations Mission on Support in Protecting the Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) OSCE in the South-East of Ukraine.


25.09.2017 - Eurasian Economic Union today (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

Though hardly noticeable in the Western media, the Eurasian economic cooperation is booming, with the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) becoming an increasingly effective integration project. The unique format of enhanced economic coordination along with the EAEU member states’ retained political sovereignty and cultural identity is proving itself.



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