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PRESS RELEASES AND NEWS

28.09.2018

Statement by the Permanent Representative of Russia to the OPCW A.Shulgin

Excellencies,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Today we invited you here to present the Russian position in relation to the ongoing insinuations by the UK about the chemical weapons’ incidents in Salisbury and Amesbury.

On 4 September 2018 the OPCW Technical Secretariat issued a press release and a summary of the report on the results of the so-called technical assistance provided to the British side in connection with the incident in Amesbury. On the next day a confidential and full version of this report was made available to the States Parties. As declared, the results of the analysis confirmed that it was a nerve agent and that the same agent – that’s its chemical composition - corresponds to the substance that had appeared in the so-called "Scripal’s Case". Such a technical conclusion did not prevent the UK Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Jeremy Hunt from stating on the same day that, quote: “Report by the OPCW confirms the UK’s findings – the nerve agent used in Amesbury poisoning was Novichok. Russian recklessness is appalling and irresponsible…”

Speaking on 5 September 2018 in the Parliament of the UK, the Prime Minister Theresa May presented the results of a national investigation that allegedly point to the involvement of the GRU agents in Salisbury and Amesbury incidents. Once again, absurd arguments were voiced about Russia's involvement: allegedly Russia alone has the means to produce the Novichok; it covers up the stockpiles of this chemical; it’s only Russia that has a motive for neutralizing the former spy Sergei Skripal. The statement is finalized with a thoughtful conclusion that this act is sanctioned at a high political level, that this is supposedly one of the examples of Russia's aggressive activity on the world stage in a series of other events, in particular the annexation of the Crimea and the invasion of the Donbas.

I will begin with a refutation of all these absurd arguments. There has been a lot of information in the open sources indicating that many western countries – above all the United States and the United Kingdom – have been working with nerve agents of a new generation. And it was there – in the mentioned countries - where the general term “Novichok” for all these chemicals was put into circulation. The Russian side has submitted a voluminous 300-page compilation of materials to the OPCW Scientific Advisory Board, which we also requested to circulate as our national document among all the States Parties to the Convention. There are several of well-known facts: back in 1998, the Americans included a mass spectrum of a substance, which they call "Novichok" in the national database – CAS. At the 57th Meeting of the OPCW Executive Council we also showed documents confirming that the US patented the CW’s munitions, which were supposed to be filled with a nerve agent of the "Novichok" class.

Here is a request from the US patent agency: the Americans wanted this invention of Mr. Rubin to be also registered in the Russian patent bodies.

The President of the Czech Republic Milos Zeman has also confirmed that in the Czech laboratory in Brno in 2017 the research was conducted with a new generation of nerve agents, referred to in the West as the "Novichok".

In an interview with “Deutsche Welle”, the former UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson admitted that there was the Novichok agent in the British laboratory of Porton Down.

And a very recent example: the journalists of the well-known Dutch newspaper “NRC Handelsblat” have ascertained that the substances of the "Novichok" family were not a secret, they were synthesized in many places. In particular, such works were conducted at the Dutch research center called “TNO, Defence, Security and Safety in Rijswijk. So this is not a tenable argument that there are only the Soviet Union and Russia where this substance could have originated from.

Another message of the British - they say, only the Russians had a motive to poison the former spy Scripal. Even the zealous Western critics of the President Vladimir Putin note that he is a soberly thinking politician. Could it be that on the eve of the World Cup and especially shortly before the presidential elections the Russian authorities would have done something like this, given the huge political costs? The answer is obvious: Russia did not need it.

Our opponents claim that the motive for the crime is the elimination of spies by Russia abroad. They say, this is a state sponsored policy to eradicate defectors. This was allegedly claimed by President Vladimir Putin. Let someone give us at least one statement like this. This is an outright lie.

We have a lot of questions concerning the mysterious deaths of Russian citizens living in the UK. This includes, in particular, the poisoning of former FSB officer Mr.A.Litvinenko, the death of Russian businessmen Mr.B.Patarkatsishvili and Mr.A.Perepilichny, the mysterious "suicide" of Mr.B.Berezovsky and the strangulation of his business partner Mr.N.Glushkov. All these people died tragically, for some reason, exactly on the British soil under very unclear circumstances. Even at that time, there were still attempts to directly or indirectly blame it on Russia. As in the “Scripals case” these accusations were based on speculations and newspaper hoax. The investigation of all these cases was conducted in an extremely non-transparent way. It did not allow to establish what really happened.

Meanwhile, this summer the daughter of Boris Berezovsky – Elizaveta made an important statement: she does not believe in the official British version of the suicide of her father. She is convinced that he was killed. She hired the well-known German criminalist Berdt Brinkmann who also disproved the findings of the British police. Shortly before his death, Mr.B.Berezovsky wrote a letter to Mr.Putin. He asked the President for pardon and expressed the willingness to return to Russia. Perhaps, someone opposed his return to his homeland?

As for the Salisbury and Amesbury incidents, the UK authorities provided photographs of two people, as they say – GRU agents. They allegedly came to Salisbury and put poisonous gelatinous substance on the handle of the Scripals’ front door. After that – for some reason – they left it in a charity bin where it was found by Ms. Dawn Sturgess. The woman received a deadly poisoning dose. This British scenario has plenty of inconsistencies and gaps.

First, the so-called GRU super-agents knowing that on almost every street corner you can find CCTV cameras deliberately exposed themselves for video-footage.

There are some other flaws in the British position. In particular:

- no data was provided either to us or to the public by British side concerning passport numbers, fingerprints, dates of birth of Mr. A.Petrov and Mr. R.Boshirov, who applied for British visa as well as information about their previous trips to the UK and other EU countries;

- any links to the GRU, and even more – to the political leadership of Russia, seem to be total nonsense. This is again the speculation, but not facts. Actually, as an argument Teresa May stated, the GRU is characterized by high discipline, and thus it is clear the two individuals could not operate on their own. That's all kind of pervert logic. Neither OPCW could say anything about the origin of the "Novichok", nor the Brits were able to present any other evidence rather than photos and names of suspected persons.

We understand the motives for the refusal of the British to request extradition of these individuals, but why they do not request legal assistance from the Russian Federation? They claim that they "do not intend to cooperate with the killers". Nevertheless, a sensible part of the public will have a question: how then to determine the truth? Perhaps there is an easier explanation for everything. One of the possible reasons why the UK refuses to follow a legal path is that its evidence is not that valid.

Let me remind you that according to its Art. IX, the CWC stipulates a clear algorithm of actions to clarify the controversial situations.  In particular CWC requires the States-Parties should conduct bilateral consultations on any controversial issue. Acting in the legal field of the Convention, the British should have sent a request to us, and we, in turn, within 10 days to give them an answer.

However, the UK rejected our offer of cooperation, considering it below its dignity.

Our Embassy in London sent more than 60 Notes Verbales to the Foreign Office with a request for a consular access to Sergei and Yulia Skripals. However all our attempts were turned down. Thus London violated the bilateral consular convention of 1968 and the European Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters of 1959. All this is done by the United Kingdom, a state positioning itself as the beacon of international law.

Without any intension to follow the provisions of the Chemical Weapons Convention the UK actually invented a new formula: a technical assistance in the identification of scheduled or unscheduled chemicals under the paragraph 38 e) of Article VIII.

To begin with, “technical assistance” in the identification of a chemical is needed for those countries that have neither experts, nor laboratories, experience nor necessary equipment. The British side has all this in abundance. Especially since everything was determined in advance: this was a non-scheduled nerve agent. The Technical Secretariat was summoned only to confirm its own conclusions.

At the same time, the experts of the Technical Secretariat for some reason were taken to the morgue so that they could participate in taking biomedical samples from the deceased Dawn Sturgess. What does “technical assistance” mean in this context? This is a direct involvement of the Technical Secretariat in the national investigation. London just needs the "seal" of the OPCW to say that the specialized international organization has empowered the UK conclusions with its authority. But at the same time, as I said before, the Technical Secretariat has neither confirmed the fact that this substance is the so-called "Novichok", nor the country of origin. That is all fiction and propaganda of the British politicians.

The Russian Federation is an honest and responsible participant of the CWC. Back in 1992, all CW’s works were stopped in accordance with a special Presidential Decree. After the entry into force of the CWC, the Russian Federation has fully and thoroughly complied with all the obligations under this international treaty. Hundreds of OPCW inspectors participated in monitoring activities for many years. In 2017 we completed our chemical disarmament ahead of schedule, which was certified by our Organization. I would like to stress once again: Russia has fulfilled its obligations in full, we have nothing to hide. We completely destroyed all chemical weapons stockpiles.

However, there is still one country - the United States of America - that is not in a hurry with chemical disarmament. Surprising as it is, Americans justify themselves by saying that they lack necessary funding. Whereas Russia managed to disarm completely, the United States still has a large chemical arsenal. Why do Americans keep silent about this? They should also shed light on what kind of research and development they continue to conduct. After all, such information appears regularly. This is especially relevant since a number of former Soviet chemists with chemical weapons expertise, now reside in the United States.




LATEST EVENTS

22.10.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning comparisons in Britain between Russian and Saudi Arabia’s reactions to high-profile incidents

Question: After the reports concerning the death of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the British media have been drawing parallels between the actions of Saudi Arabia and Russia. Are there any good reasons for such comparisons? Answer: We have already stated that we would not be commenting idle talks. It is for journalists, not diplomats, to speculate on this kind of issues. However, we have taken note of yet another article by Boris Johnson in “The Daily Telegraph”, where he compares the death of Jamal Khashoggi to the so-called poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury. In particular, he insists that Saudi Arabia and Turkey should – and rightly so – provide the public with as much information as possible concerning the exact causes of the journalist’s death.


15.10.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning the ties between “Bellingcat” and secret services

Question: Russian officials claim that “Bellingcat” is connected to intelligence agencies of the Western countries, but do not present any evidence of such ties. Doesn’t such approach contradict Russia’s position on the Salisbury incident, the MH-17 catastrophe and other notable cases, where the Russian government is continuously demanding to publish proofs of accusations? Answer: There is no contradiction. The fact that “Bellingcat” is affiliated to the intelligence services is obvious considering the whole range of relevant circumstances: date of its foundation (several days prior to the MH-17 catastrophe), nature of published information (which combines signs of intelligence data and highly professional fakes), its orientation (always anti-Russian), timeline of publications (each time at the best moment from the point of view of interests of NATO countries), biography of its leader (Elliot Higgins suddenly turned from a PC gamer into an “icon of independent journalism), non-transparency of its internal structure and financing. If “Bellingcat” can provide any other plausible explanation for such combination of facts, it should be presented to the public.


15.10.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning the British government calls to step up anti-Russian sanctions

Question: How would you comment on the news that the British government has been lobbying a new EU sanctions regime against Russian nationals allegedly involved in use of chemical weapons and cyber-attacks in Europe? Answer: We have taken note of the respective statement by Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt of 14 October and the relevant media reports. These suggest that, faced with an imminent Brexit, the British government makes every effort to step up the sanctions pressure on Russia and to complicate as much as possible Russia-EU relations after Brexit.


13.10.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning the investigation of the death of Nikolay Glushkov

Q.: 12 October marks seven months since the death of Nikolay Glushkov. Does the Embassy have any new information on this case? A.: Unfortunately, once again we have to state that the British side continues to evade any sort of cooperation with Russia with regard to the investigation of the death of former Deputy Director General of “Aeroflot” Mr Glushkov that occurred on British soil on 12 March. The British authorities continue to ignore numerous Russian requests, including the official request of the Prosecutor General’s Office of the Russian Federation for legal assistance in the criminal case opened in Russia into the Nikolay Glushkov’s death. There are no answers to the Embassy’s proposals to arrange a meeting or consultations between the Investigative Committee, Prosecutor General’s Office of the Russian Federation experts and the Metropolitan Police representatives.


12.10.2018 - Ambassador Yakovenko’s introductory remarks at the press-conference on 12 October 2018

Ladies and gentlemen, In recent weeks we have received a number of media requests concerning the current state of bilateral affairs between Russia and the United Kingdom. I am also often asked how numerous anti-Russian statements by the British officials influence our approach towards the UK. Considering this, I have decided to invite you today to make respective short comments on these issues and answer your additional questions. Currently the relations between Russia and the UK are at a very low level. The reason for that lies in an aggressive anti-Ru ssian campaign launched by the current Tory government and supported by the British media.


09.10.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning the new Bellingcat’s investigation

Question: How would you comment on Bellingcat’s claims that it has “tracked down Alexander Petrov’s real identity”? Answer: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has recently advised us to consider such publications and statements as a display of freedom of public debate into which the UK Government does not interfere. There have already been reports that the Home Office and Metropolitan Police would not comment on these “speculations”. This is exactly the case when we should follow the example of our British colleagues.


08.10.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning the UK authorities’ reaction to Russia’s official requests following recent flagrant media publications

Question: The Embassy declared its intent to request clarifications from the British side following the recent accusations of cyberattacks, and the media reports on preparations for retaliatory cyberstrikes against targets in Russia. Has there been any response? Answer: Today we have received a reply from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office which implies that, as before, the British side is not going to provide us with any details that may serve as the basis of the accusations. In this case, we are not in a position to make comments on the essence of those accusations.


05.10.2018 - Embassy comment on another groundless British accusation against Russia

On 4 October, UK Permanent Representative to OPCW Peter Wilson speaking on behalf of Minister for Europe Sir Alan Duncan claimed that the “GRU” allegedly “attempted to compromise UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office computer systems via a spear phishing attack” and “targeted computers of the UK Defence and Science Technology Laboratory”. The same day the UK National Cyber Security Centre stated that “multiple email accounts belonging to a small UK-based TV station were accessed and content stolen” and “the GRU was almost certainly responsible”.Today, the Embassy has forwarded a Note Verbale to the FCO demanding that the UK Government produces and immediately shares with the Russian side hard evidence and proofs supporting those claims, and informs about sources used to draw such conclusions. We have reminded, in particular, that Russia had repeatedly proposed expert consultations on cybersecurity in order to address UK’s concerns, if any.


04.10.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning the BBC journalist Mark Urban’s book on Sergei Skripal

Q.: How would you comment on the Mark Urban’s book on Sergei Skripal published on 4 October? A.: We intend yet to study this book. At the same time, it is a well known fact that Mark Urban has close links with British secret services. This gives us grounds for considering this book as an attempt to compensate for Sergei Skripal’s public non-appearance as the key witness to the Salisbury incident. Instead of facts, the public is again offered speculation and guesses.


04.10.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning the recent anti-Russian statement by the Foreign Office

Question: How would you comment on today’s statement by the Foreign Office accusing Russia of worldwide cyber-attacks on massive scale? Answer: This statement is reckless. It has become a tradition for such claims to lack any evidence. It is yet another element of the anti-Russian campaign by the UK Government.



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