mardi 17 avril 2018

BBC Interview of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview with BBC Hard Talk on April 16, 2018.


Question: The world was deeply alarmed last week by the prospect of a direct military confrontation between the United States and Russia. How close do you believe we came to that?

Sergey Lavrov: Well, I don't think that was very close. I think it was a situation created by very reckless behavior of our Western colleagues who accused the Syrian Government and us as allies of the Syrian Government in applying chemical weapons against civilians without waiting for OPCW to inspect the place. Actually, at the moment when OPCW was physically ready to move from Lebanon to Syria, they executed these strikes. As the representatives of our military explained, the deconflicting channel has been engaged all the time.

Question:   So, to be clear about that, without using jargon, the US and ally forces gave you indications of how strikes would be carried out and you gave them some indication that you would not retaliate?

Sergey Lavrov: I prefer not to get into the nitty-gritty of these military communitory channels. There is a channel existing between the Russian and the United States military, both between the capitals and on the ground in Syria, and I believe the military discussed and continue to discuss this and other things very professionally. They understand each other and they understand, maybe better than anyone else, the danger of this kind of adventure.

Question: But Mr. Lavrov, this crisis is not over, is it?

Sergey Lavrov: It depends on those who invented the crisis.

Question: Well, it is quite clear from words used by your own diplomats. Your Ambassador to United States said there would be consequences for the strikes that we saw. Vladimir Putin called it an illegal act of aggression. So the world wants to know what Russia is going to do now.

Sergey Lavrov: That is a statement of fact. Certainly there would be consequences. We lose basically the last remnants of trust to our Western friends who prefer to operate on the basis of very weird logic. Proof is in the punishment – they've punished first – like they did in Salisbury – then they wait for Scotland Yard to finalize the investigation. They punished first in Douma in Syria and then they wait for the inspectors of OPCW to visit the place and to inspect. Proof by the punishment is what is being applied by the Troika of Western countries.

Question: I want to talk to you about the detail of the cases that you've mentioned – about the Douma and the Skripal cases. But before we get there I just want to continue the idea of diplomatic relationship today. Now, the US Ambassador to United Nations Nikki Haley said US forces remain "locked and loaded". When you hear that kind of language, how do you respond?

Sergey Lavrov: Well, I think they have to put their own house together in Washington because we understand that this kind of statements could be made either by the Commander-in-Chief or by the military and, as I said, the military of the United States and of the Russian Federation maintain the deconflicting channel on Syria and this is some kind of confidential information.

Question: You say there is no trust. You mean zero trust now between Russia and the United States?

Sergey Lavrov: I said they are losing the last remnants of trust – which is not yet zero.

Question: Not yet zero. I just wonder: as Foreign Minister of Russia when you wake up in the morning and you read on Twitter the words of the United States President and the Commander-in-Chief saying in essence: Get ready Russia; our nice, new, smart missiles are coming – what do you make of that?

Sergey Lavrov: Well, I make of that that the President of the United States writes his tweet.

Question: And your response to those tweets is?

Sergey Lavrov: Well, the proof of the pudding is in the eating, as you know. So, we waited for these smart new – what else was there? – nice missiles to be used at the attack and we calculated that two thirds of them did not reach their target because they were intercepted.

Question: There is absolutely no evidence of that, isn't it?

Sergey Lavrov: Well, the military of the Russian Federation, the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation, presented its assessment and it is available for the professional discussion.

Question: We'll get back to the credibility of the information provided by all the sides of this crisis later, but for now, continuing with the diplomatic thread: Theresa May, British Prime Minister, and Emmanuel Macron, President of France, both made it very clear that the intervention we saw was all about degrading and deterring the Syrian Government's chemical weapons threat. It was not about an intervention into the Syrian war and it was certainly not about regime change in Damascus.

Sergey Lavrov: So they said.

Question: Do you accept it?

Sergey Lavrov: We don't accept this. I mean you have hard talk, you know, we want hard facts. And "highly likely" is really ridiculous. And the policies of our Western friends…

Question: Sorry, when you say "highly likely", you mean the assessment that chemical weapons were used in Douma by the Assad government forces?

Sergey Lavrov: No, I said "highly likely" as a new invention of the British diplomacy to describe why they punish people – because these people are highly likely guilty, like in Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll when he described a trial. And when they discovered that the jury could be engaged, then the King said "Let's ask the jury" and the Queen shouted "No jury! Sentence first – verdict afterwards." That's the logic of "highly likely".

Question: Well, that's what you say. But let's get into the detail of what happened in Douma. But let us do it by first asking a very basic question. Russia opposes the use of chemical weapons and it believes people who use those weapons should be punished. Yes?

Sergey Lavrov: Is it a question?

Question: Do you agree with that?

Sergey Lavrov: I thought you were much better informed about the Russian position to ask the obvious.

Question: It's obvious? You agree? Because you've signed the relevant treaties, you are part of the international commitment to ban and eliminate the use of chemical weapons.

Sergey Lavrov:   Yes, more than that – we did eliminate our chemical weapons in 2017 which was verified by the OPCW, which was welcomed by the entire OPCW Executive Committee and unfortunately the United States is still to deliver on its own obligations which they have been postponing again and again.

Question: But if I have just stated the obvious and it is quite clear what the Russian commitment is, then surely you must want the perpetrators of that chemical weapons attack in Douma for which there is overwhelming evidence to be punished…

Sergey Lavrov: Wait. You are jumping the facts again. There is no proof that on 7 th of April chemical weapons were used in Douma…

Question: Emmanuel Macron and the French have made it quite clear that they have intercepts which show helicopter movements, Syrian Government helicopter movements over Douma. They have pictures of gas canisters found at the site of the attack. They also have the record of the Syrian Government over the last several years using the chemical weapons. If you put all of that together…

Sergey Lavrov: I cannot be impolite with the heads of other states – and of course I cannot be impolite to the head of my state – but you quoted the leaders of France and UK and the United States and, frankly speaking, all the evidence which they quoted was based on the media reports and on social networks. The canisters – I saw this picture – a canister lying on a bed, and the bed is intact and the window glass is not broken… Look, you need to be a bit more serious. Can you explain to me why strike the day before OPCW is going to move there and to verify the fact which, they assert, was a fact?

Question: The American representative of the OPCW, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, says there is a deep concern that Russia has tampered with the evidence sites in Douma. Can you guarantee Russia has not tampered with it?

Sergey Lavrov: Yes, I can guarantee. It's absolutely the same as was the logic of Theresa May on Salisbury. When we asked dozens of questions, when we requested common investigation, when we requested our presence at this samples-taking ceremony if you wish, she said no, we are not going to answer any question until Russia answers all our questions. The only question which was addressed to Russia – tell us how you did it. Was it ordered by Putin, the poisoning of this poor couple, or this was the result of you losing your control over chemical arsenals? I believe, for any intelligent person it's a situation which is absolutely odd…

Question: But listen…Back to Douma and back to credibility. You have claimed that the event in Douma, first of all, did not happen. Then the message seemed to change and you said there was some sort of event but it was stage-managed and fabricated by what you called a Russophobic country…

Sergey Lavrov: The event did not take place. What did take place was the staged thing. It did not involve any chemical weapons.

Question: And you believe Britain was behind the staging of a mock chemical weapons attack in Douma?

Sergey Lavrov: Well, the history knows some experience during previous decades… What we do believe and the special services, of course, can present information to their British colleagues…

Question: You say there is irrefutable proof that it was faked, it was staged. You claim the White Helmet humanitarian first-responders were involved. Where is this irrefutable proof?

Sergey Lavrov: Well, the irrefutable proof is in the visiting of the place…

Question: No, no, where is you irrefutable proof that the White Helmets backed by the British Government have faked the whole thing? It's about credibility. Where is your credibility?

Sergey Lavrov: What I did say was that the White Helmets are known to work only on the territories controlled by the opposition, including Jabhat an-Nusra, and that White Helmets are known to be ringing the bell one year ago in Khan Shaykhun which was a fake from the beginning to the end and the White Helmets are known to be financed, among other countries, by the United Kingdom.

Question: But Foreign Minister, that doesn't represent an irrefutable proof…

Sergey Lavrov: Wait a second, irrefutable proof of what?

Question: You said you have irrefutable proof that a Russophobic country by which you meant Britain had worked with these White Helmets…

Sergey Lavrov: Why did you say that I meant Britain? Don't put your words into my mouth. I did say "a country which is trying to lead the Russophobic campaign". Please, quote me correctly. Otherwise it would be not very journalistic, I would say. So, speaking of irrefutable facts. The Douma event was agreed to be investigated by OPCW inspectors. They moved to Lebanon, they were told by the Syrian Government that they would be immediately issued visas as they come to the border. Seven hours later the Douma and the Syrian territory was struck. What is the reason for going that way one day before the inspectors were about to arrive there?

Question: If the French, British and the American governments are right and you are wrong, and President Assad continues to use chemical weapons just as he did in Ghouta where he killed up to a thousand people in 2013, just as he did in Khan Shaykhun last year, just as the US-led forces say he did in Douma – if they are right and you are wrong, will you agree that President Assad must be punished?

Sergey Lavrov: Look, you don't hear me. You don't even listen to me. What I said that the aggressive action was taken less than 24 hours before the international inspectors, including, by the way, American citizens, as far as I understand, were to visit the place where the alleged chemical attack happened. The last year event in Khan Shaykhun happened on 4 th of April, next morning Rex Tillerson called me and said why don't you tell the Syrian Government they must allow inspectors to the airbase from which the plane allegedly carrying chemical bomb took off, and we told them next morning that the permission was granted. They said no, thank you, and they struck the next day. When we asked the OPCW to go there, they said it is not safe and that they don't need this in any case because the Brits and the French did have the samples. We asked the French and the Brits: Can you explain how you got the samples from the place which seems not to be very safe? Then you have contacts with the White Helmets who control the territory? And they said this is the secret information. We have much more facts to be clarified, and we have much more legitimate questions in response to the only one question which we hear from the Western leaders, from the Western media, the question being "why did you do this? Why did you use chemical weapons in Britain? Why do you cover Assad?" And so on and so forth. And then, on the basis of these assertions, you say: if you are not right, will you punish Assad?  It is a very interesting…

Question: If – you are Russia's chief diplomat – if Assad is deemed by the United States, Britain, France and other countries to be using chemical weapons again, if it's quite clear there will be a military response and it will be a bigger one than we have just seen, what will that lead to?

Sergey Lavrov: Before you say "again" you have to prove that he did use the chemical weapons. Can I give you a brief history…

Question: The world wants to know. If the US, to quote Nikki Haley again, "is locked and loaded" and if they deem – never mind what you think – if they deem Assad to again be using chemical weapons, it is clear they will come up with a military response bigger than the one we've just seen, what would the Russian response to that be?

Sergey Lavrov: I'm not in the guessing business. What I know is that when some time ago the three Western countries, who are leading this crazy campaign, said: if Assad uses chemical weapons then we would use force. You know, I believe that was a signal to the bad guys, including "White helmets" to stage a provocation. Now after the strike on the 14th of April they say again: if you do this again we would use force again. This is another invitation to the opposition, to the extremists to resume fighting which they did already – they tried to attack Damascus immediately after the strike. But my point is that when people say Russia is responsible for the obligations of Assad under the Chemical weapons convention, it's a very outrageous statement. We did it together with the United States.

Question: My final question that on the diplomacy before we move on to other matters: The US is pushing for a new UN security resolution today which they believe is needed to send the international signal that Assad cannot be allowed to do this again. Will you work with the United States at the UN, will you end vetoing any single resolution the US and its allies are putting forward?

Sergey Lavrov: Not every single resolution. If you mean that they want to resume an investigating mechanism which is not transparent, which is not independent and which takes you the decisions on a sentence itself without a verdict form the Security Council, then no – we cannot accept this.

Question: You won't?

Sergey Lavrov: The entire reason for this resolution is to make it look that if Russia and Syria agree to cooperate, which is impossible because of the substance, but what they want to do is to make it look that we and Syria were bombed into negotiations. That's why in that resolution they insist that Syrian government must start negotiating. They forget that the main opposition group which they all support, the so-called Riyadh group, Naser Hariri recently, the leader of this group stated that the United States must continue to use force not just in case of some chemical episodes, but against the Syrian government wherever and whenever the Syrian government opposes the opposition.

Question: Quick fire questions for you. First of them, do you believe that President Assad has won in this endless Syrian conflict?

Sergey Lavrov: It is not about winning. It is not about Assad or his opponents. It's about the Syrian people getting a break from this disastrous eight years.

Question: And what is Russia's endgame? I see you're sending more military material and men into the Syria conflict. Is it your commitment now to back Assad all the way till he controls every single inch of Syrian territory?

Sergey Lavrov: It's to protect the Syrian Arab Republic from aggression which was launched on the 14th of April and which the three countries say that they would continue.

Question: Are you going to send this latest sophisticated S-300 anti-aircraft missile to President Assad in Syria? And if you are, the Israelis are going to be gravely concerned.

Sergey Lavrov: President Putin addressed this issue. And he clearly reminded that few years ago at the request of our partners we decided not supply S-300 to Syria. Now that this outrageous act of aggression was undertaken by the US, France and UK, we might think how to make sure that the Syrian state is protected.

Question: To be clear, you're saying that what has happened in the last few days makes you reconsider and feel positive about sending those very sophisticated anti-aircraft missiles to Syria.

Sergey Lavrov: It makes us convinced that whatever is required to help the Syrian army to deter aggression, we will be ready to consider.

Question: Five hundred thousand people at least killed in the seven years of Syria war. Twelve million people at least displaced. Five million of them at least now living outside Syria. Do you seriously think that President Assad can ever unify his country – heal the wounds, be the ruler of Syria in any meaningful sense?

Sergey Lavrov: We never said this. What we did say – Resolution 2254: it is for the Syrians to decide the future of Syria, new constitution, elections, let the Syrians decide. And mind you that the ongoing effort to split Syria is very much against what people say formally and publicly. And when we speak about disastrous effect of some civil wars, don't forget what will shape Iraq is in, what shape Libya is in, and those who did it they now want to have Syria joining the club.

Question: I want to briefly turn to the case of Sergei and Yulia Skripal who were poisoned in Salisbury in the South of England. In this interview you've told me that credibility is important, that trust is important. You are the Russian foreign minister. You claimed that the Skripal attack was mounted by British intelligence services who you, perhaps jokingly, I don't know, said are known for their "license to kill". Do you expect that claim to be taken seriously?

Sergey Lavrov: When we were told that there is no other credible explanation, but to assume that it was Russia which "highly likely" poisoned Skripals – we said that there are other credible explanations.

Question: But yours isn't credible.

Sergey Lavrov: Why? Why do you think so?

Question: Have you got one shred, shred of evidence to suggest British intelligence tried to kill Sergei Skripal?

Sergey Lavrov: There is an old Roman criteria "who is to benefit". The UK is grossly benefiting from the provocations both in Syria and in the United Kingdom itself.

Question: Hang on a minute.

Sergey Lavrov: And Britain is back on the stage of world politics in a very negative and a very aggressive, and a very weird way.

Question: There can be inconsistency in your position, if I may say so, foreign minister, in this interview you've been at pain to tell me that Russia is utterly committed to all the international commitments and conventions on chemical weapons, including supporting the work of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

Sergey Lavrov: Absolutely!

Question: You know better than I that the OPCW has run tests in four different labs on the nerve agent used in Salisbury. All of them have concluded that that was a Novichok agent in a highly pure form as described by the British government.

Sergey Lavrov: That's a problem. First, the A-234 agent in highly pure form in high concentration is already raising suspicions.

Question: It came from Russia. In the former Soviet Union, you invented that.

Sergey Lavrov: Steven, you are not factual. You may be hard talking, but you are not listening. This chemical substance indeed was invented in the Soviet Union, then one the inventors fled to the United States and made the formula public. And if you want to check before raising the issue, please do so, the United States patented this formula; and it was formally taken by United States special services or the army, I don't remember. But A-234 is a very light, I mean, it seriously damages a person, kills him of her, but it evaporates very fast; and the sample taken two weeks after the event cannot, according to our scientists, contain very high concentration.

Question: I guess it's all the question of credibility, and what you're telling me, it may be credible for Russia; it's certainly not credible around the world. See, you've had over a hundred diplomats expelled from over the twenty countries. It's clear where the consensus lies. Russia is seen as culpable.

Sergey Lavrov: If you want to finish the issue of the substance, on Saturday we presented a paper which contains, literally, the conclusion of the Swiss laboratory in the city of Spiez, which was one of the four laboratories, which did say that there were traces of A-234 of very high concentration, but they also said that there was…

Question: I will use: you trust the OPCW or you don't? It's quite simple. You seem as you're not saying you trust the OPCW.

Sergey Lavrov: For a Brit, you have very bad manners. The Swiss laboratory report also said that, and in the first place, they found BZ, which was I think invented in the United States in 1955 and was among the equipment of the US and UK army. And we asked OPCW, whom we trust, whether this is true or not that in addition to A-234 there was also BZ discovered. And we are waiting a reply of OPCW, whom, of course, we trust, but we want trust and verify.

Question: We're almost out of time. I have to ask you about sanctions before we finish. The US Treasury Secretary is due to announce another raft of sanctions against Russian companies and individuals who are deemed to have contacts with the Syrian military. There are already over the past few weeks new sanctions from the United States on a whole bunch of different companies and individuals which have hit the Russian stock market very badly. Russia's being squeezed.

Sergey Lavrov: Thank you for your sympathy, but don't worry, we will survive.

Question: Stock market down ten percent. Rouble down against the dollar.

Sergey Lavrov: You've seen the times which were very troubling in the past when George Soros undermined your stock market and dropped the pound sterling very lowly. It's not just these threats do punish those who keep contacts with the Syrian government; it's a threat which, as we see, to punish the entire Russian people for making the wrong choice during the elections. When they say that "we would never target the Russian men and women, we only target the oligarchs, the politicians, the military who disturb the world", they are lying because the desire, as I see, is to make thousands and dozens of thousands and hundreds of thousands of Russians disturbed, those who have been employed…

Question: But that is Russia's vulnerability.

Sergey Lavrov: Yes.

Question: You may have lots of nuclear weapons that President Putin boasts about. In fact, he says that those weapons are the most potent and powerful in the world today, but you have an economy which is weak and vulnerable.

Sergey Lavrov: True, and we know this. But this economy has sustained quite a lot beginning from World War II. And I can assure you that the Government and the President are very much keen, you know, to make sure that the necessary reforms are taken through. And this was the essence of the first half of the Presidential message to the Parliament. And his second part when he informed his audience about the new weapons delivered in Russia. He ended by saying we always are ready to talk, provided the talk is respectful and based on the looking for balance of interests.

Question: And my final thought. The Secretary General of the UN Antonio Guterres said the other day: the Cold War is back with a vengeance, but also with a difference, because now the safeguards that managed the risk of escalation are no longer present. That is a truly frightening thought. You've been foreign minister 13 years. Is this the most scary time that you have been through?

Sergey Lavrov: One of the safeguards is having normal channels. The channels between us and UK have been closed by the British, with all agencies fighting against terrorism between the military dropped long ago by the initiative of London. NATO-Russia Council which was a very useful mechanism to promote confidence and transparency was closed for all practical purposes by NATO, who only wants to discuss Ukraine in that body. And the European Union closed all the avenues of cooperation with Russia except talking to us of Syria or some other things.

Question: Do you feel you are in a new Cold War?

Sergey Lavrov: I think it's worse.

Question: Worse?

Sergey Lavrov: Because during the Cold War there were channels of communication; and there was no obsession with Russophobia which looks like, you know, genocide by sanctions.

Question: You think the situation today is worse than the Cold War?

Sergey Lavrov: Yes, because of the lack of channels of communication except very few.

Question: That makes it very dangerous.

Sergey Lavrov: I hope not only you but other compatriots of yours including the Government recognize this.

Question: And that's hard to imagine or remember time when Russia looked more like a pariah, looked more isolated. You have the World Cup coming in the summer which Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson in a rhetorical flourish said could be compared by some to Hitler's staging of the 1936 Olympics in Berlin.

Sergey Lavrov: In 1938, the UK team was playing against Germany (in 1938 when 1936 was already past us). And if you go to Internet you will see a photo picture before the beginning of the game when both the German soccer players and the UK football players salute by the Hitler Nazi welcome.

Question: What's your point?

Sergey Lavrov: I'm not going to discuss Boris Johnson. We had a chat recently when he was in Moscow. Let him get fun.

Question:   Sergey Lavrov, we are out time, but thank you very much for having hard talk.

Sergey Lavrov: Thank you, Steven.

Syria at the UNSC: US, UK and France are Rogue States

Syria's Permanent Representative to the United Nations Bashar al-Ja'fari's full speech at the UN Security Council on April 14, 2018, after the USA, UK and France carried out unilateral strikes against Syria.



Thank you Mr. President. 

I welcome the presence of the Secretary General today in these very important moments in the history and work of the Security Council. The Secretary General, in his Statement yesterday, warned that the Cold War is back. This is absolutely right. We all agree with the accuracy of this Statement. It is important to recall, at this opportunity, who are those who relaunched the philosophy of the Cold War. 

We all of course remember that following the collapse of the former USSR, a philosophic book by Francis Fukuyama was published here (in the USA), called The End of History. And another American thinker, Samuel Huntington, wrote The Clash of Civilizations. These two books founded the return of the Cold War philosophy. Indeed, the gist of these two books was as follow: “People of the world, either you follow the path of the United States and submit to its will, or we will attack you.” As goes the American saying, “My way or the highway.” Thus did the philosophy and atmosphere of the Cold War return. 

Lies are useless, ladies and gentlemen. Lies are to no avail. They can be of use to the liar just once. We can be fooled by a lie only once. But when the lie is repeated, well, this lie is exposed as such and exposes the liar.  

My colleague, the Representative of France, announced that their aggression, along with the United Kingdom and the United States, was carried out on behalf of the international community. This is what he said. “La communauté internationale.” I wonder about which international community the French Representative is speaking. Is he speaking of an international community that actually exists? Has this international community that you represent authorized this tripartite aggression against my country? Did your three governments receive a mandate from the Security Council to attack my country? 

My American, French and British colleagues have claimed that they have bombed centers for the production of chemical weapons in Syria. This is what they said. If the governments of these three countries knew the actual location of these production centers they claim to have bombed, why didn’t they share these information with the OPCW? Why didn’t they share this information with the fact-finding mission present in Damascus before attacking my country? This is a question.

By the way, I would like to assure you all that the experts group from the OPCW has arrived today at midday. And of course, the trip of the group from Beirut to Damascus took a whole day more than planned, and we do not know the reasons for this delay, until the attack took place. It is as if someone made sure that this team of investigators would not reach Damascus yesterday, before the aggression took place, waiting for it to happen. But the delegation did reach Damascus today at midday and as it requested, it will hold a consultative meeting in two hours, at 7 pm, with the Syrian side. My government will provide every support to this delegation so that it can carry out its mission successfully. 

The building of the Barzeh research facility which was targeted by this tripartite aggression, this very building was visited twice last year by experts from the OPCW. The building was thoroughly searched. And they delivered us an official document that Stated that there were no chemical activities in this center, and that Syria had complied with its obligations vis-à-vis the OPCW. Now if the OPCW experts handed us last year an official document which confirms that this center, the Barzeh research center, had no chemical activity that would contravene our obligations vis-a-vis the OPCW, how do you reconcile this fact with the accusations we have heard today, that this aggression targeted a chemical weapons production center? 

The colleague from the United States said that the time for discussion ended yesterday., that the time for discussion was over. Well, then what are we doing today as diplomats and ambassadors in this Security Council? Our mission here is to speak, to make clear to each other what happens, to shed light on the issues. We are not here in the Security Council to justify an aggression against such or such country. How can we State that the discussion is over? The discussion never ends for diplomats in the Security Council if the goal is to prevent an aggression, and to implement the UN Charter and principles of international law. 

The British and French colleagues spoke about a plan of action and invited the Secretary-General to implement it, even before the Security Council and the Syrian government agreed to it. And the steps of their plan are truly surprising and astonishing. And I would like to present a counter plan of action in the name of my government, for the three aggressors to implement today. We consider that this should have been the plan of action for today. 

First of all, reading the provisions of the United Nations Charter in order to establish the responsibility of these three States in maintaining international peace and security, rather than threatening and destroying them. I brought three versions of the Charter, two in English and one in French. Perhaps these States would benefit from rereading what the Charter states. 

Second, these three States should immediately stop supporting in any way the armed terrorist groups in my country. Immediately.
Third, put an end to the lies and fabrication of allegations to justify the ongoing aggression of these three States against my country, Syria. 

Fourth, these three countries should realize that after seven years of a terrorist war imposed on my country, Syria, a war carried out by these countries and their instruments in the region, their missiles, warships and planes will not weaken us nor break our will and determination to defeat your terrorism, and they will not prevent our Syrian people to decide his own political future by himself, and without any foreign interference. We repeat it for the thousandth time: we will not allow any foreign interference to shape our future. I promised you yesterday that we would not remain inactive against any aggression, and the Syrian government kept his promise. And I will explain how the Syrian government kept his promise. 

Allow me now to address the members who are actually committed to international law by telling them that the Syrian Arab Republic, its allies and friends, and they are numerous, are perfectly capable of dealing with the brutal aggression that my country faced this morning. What we ask from you today, diplomats and ambassadors who are attached to international legitimacy and to the UN Charter, is to ask the United States, Great Britain and France to read the provisions of the UN Charter regarding the protection of the sovereignty of States and the nonuse of force in international relations. And perhaps the governments of these three countries will realize, be it only once, that their role in this Council is to maintain international peace and security rather than undermine them. As I just said, I have three copies of the Charter. I ask the Secretary to distribute them to the three delegations so that they may enlighten their ignorance and tyranny. 

Mr. President, in a flagrant violation of international law and of the laws and principles of the United Nations, the United States, Great Britain and France, at 3:55 this morning, Saturday, the 14th of April 2018, Damascus time, conducted an abject aggression against the Syrian Arab Republic. This aggression amounted to about 110 missiles being launched against the territory of the Syrian Arab Republic, at the capital Damascus and other cities and regions. 110 missiles. 

In response to this brutal aggression, the Syrian Arab Republic exercised its legitimate rights to defend itself guaranteed by article 51 of the UN Charter and repelled the iniquitous aggression. Syrian air defenses faced the missiles of the tripartite aggressors, and were able to intercept a number of them, even though some of them did reach the research center in the Barzeh region of the capital Damascus (not outside but inside the capital), which is a research center including laboratories. Luckily, the damages were only material. Some of the “nice, smart and new” missiles that targeted a military installation close to the city of Homs were rerouted. The explosion of one of them injured three civilians. 

The governments of three States prepared the ground for their brutal aggression with hostile statements from their highest officials saying that their only excuse for hampering the progress of the Syrian Arab Army against the terrorist armed groups would be the use of chemical weapons. Indeed, the signals of these aggressors reached the armed groups, and in a race against time, these groups presented this masquerade of the use of chemical weapons in Douma. They used false witnesses, created a false scene of the claimed attack just as they did before, and thus provided the pretext for this brutal aggression, which can only be explained by the fact that the original aggressors, the US, UK, and France, decided to interfere directly in order to revenge the defeat of their terrorist proxies in the Ghouta. 

By the way, ladies and gentlemen, those who fabricated the masquerade of the chemical attack in Ghouta were caught and admitted on television that they fabricated the whole story from the beginning to the end. We have it on camera and we are ready to provide the UN Presidency with video if it wishes so.

Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to draw the attention of those of you attached to international law and to the UN Charter to the fact that this blatant aggression conveys a new message by the three aggressors to the terrorist groups, telling them to continue using chemical weapons in the future and committing their terrorist crimes, not only in Syria but also in other countries. There is no doubt about it. 

In 146 letters, we have drawn your attention to the possession of chemical weapons by the terrorist groups and of their and plans to use them in Syria. 146 letters are in your hands and the hands of international institutions. Some are trying today to reinvent the wheel and determine the sex of angels. You all know, ladies and gentleman, that this aggression took place just when a fact-finding team from the OPCW was supposed to arrive in Syria at the request of my country’s government to investigate the alleged Douma chemical attack. So in a nutshell, the main message that these three countries addressed to you and to the whole world is that they do not care the least about your authority as members of the Security Council, and that they do not want a transparent and independent investigation. They are exerting efforts to undermine the work of the inquiry team and prejudge its findings, pressuring the experts so that they would cover their lies and fabrications and not expose them, just as it happened six years ago in 2013 with Dr. Sellström in his way from Damascus to Khan al-Assal, as I explained to you in a previous declaration.

Today’s attack was not just an attack on Syria, but as my dear friend the Ambassador of Bolivia said, this is an attack against the UN Charter, the Security Council and international law, an attack against 193 States members of the United Nations. Washington, London, and Paris' efforts to make the UN fact-finding mission fail is a continued historical path, in spite of the fact that these three countries keep ranting about their alleged support to such international institutions. At the same time, inside the United Nations, they resort to political pressure and provocations behind closed doors so that they can prevent the UN from carrying out its missions. They strive to make it deviate from its mandate and from the objectives for which it was founded.

We recall what happened to all the fact-finding missions that were in charge of Iraq, Libya, Yugoslavia, and Africa. No fact-finding mission can ever succeed as long as it is submitted to provocations, blackmail and political pressures. It is impossible.

To the three aggressors, I say that you are impostors, hypocrites and liars. You strive for the failure of any UN action that does not pursue your interests. Ever since the UN was founded, you have kept trying to exploit and obfuscate all the international institution’s endeavors and achievements. The history of the investigative and fact-finding missions in Iraq, Yugoslavia, Libya, Syria and Africa are witnesses to the fact that you say is very different from what you do. You have exhausted the agendas of the Security Council for decades, diverting it from its role to establish peace and security in the world, and making it an instrument in the pursuit of your aggressive policies of colonialism and interference. 

Yesterday evening, Mr. President, the main headline in US and Western media was the broadcasting of lies and dupery exerted in the framework of an information campaign that has already been launched before, meant to promote a false victory and illusory successes. They know very well that it is nothing but lies. 

While these three governments were committing their brutal aggression against my country, Syria, our air defense system countered it with a great deal of expertise, downing these 100 missiles and preventing [most of] them from reaching their target. At the same time, the US Defense Minister, along with the Commander of the US forces and aggression, were standing at the tribune of a staged scene truly astonishing by its level of lies and reality distortion. As you all saw yesterday, they remained unable to answer factual questions that the world opinion needs to see answered.

I myself, along with millions of viewers, felt pity for them in this spectacle, as they were standing like two ashamed pupils, repeating sentences devoid of meaning that didn’t answer the questions of a journalist that was trying to clarify the facts about this strike against targets supposedly full of chemical weapons and the great dangers it would be for the civilians because of the spread and evaporation of these alleged substances. There was no answer. And they were also unable to answer another journalist who asked the US Defense Minister, and I quote, “You said yesterday from this platform that you had no proofs that the Syrian government launched this chemical attack in Douma. So what happened in the past few hours? How did you change your mind?” The answer was that within these few hours, he got a confirmation from the intelligence services.  

The Syrian Arab Republic condemns in the firmest way this tripartite US-UK-France aggression against her, which once again shows indisputably that they have no respect whatsoever for international law, even though they constantly speak about it, repeatedly, as the liars and slanderers they are. These countries have shown their belief in the law of the jungle and the logic of force, while they are occupying permanent seats at the Security Council, entrusted by the State members of the United Nations with the fundamental responsibility to maintain international peace and security, and to stop any aggression in accordance with its principles and with the UN Charter. 

Syria is disgusted with the disgraceful position of the rulers of the Emirate of Qatar who supported this spiteful tripartite Western colonialist aggression against Syria, and allowed its lava to be launched from the al-Udeid US airbase in Qatar. It is not surprising that the kids ruling the Qatar Emirate would take this stance, as they have supported the terrorist gangs of the Muslim Brotherhood and others in a variety of ways, in order to shatter stability of the Arab countries, especially Syria. 

The Syrian Arab Republic is asking the international community, if it does indeed exist – we have heard a new definition of the international community today –, and the Security Council to staunchly condemn this aggression, which will only aggravate the tensions in the region and in the world, and constitute a threat to international peace and security throughout the world. 

Ladies and gentlemen, those of you committed to international law, I call upon you to imagine with me the scene of the meeting held yesterday in the US Security council where they decided to attack Syria. This is what I imagine they said to each other: “We have no legal basis for a military strike against Syria. We have no proof that a chemical attack even occurred in Douma. But let us put all that aside, because we have never needed, in any military action that we ever carried out, (to resort to) international law or to any legal pretext.” Then they keep talking to each other, this is how I imagine the meeting of yesterday: “This military attack is necessary for us and our allies, so that the public opinion in our countries can be diverted from the scandals of our politicians and so that the corrupted rulers of some Gulf countries pay all the expenses of this aggression. And most importantly, so that we protect the terrorism that we have nurtured for years in Syria.”

Thank you, Mr. President.

dimanche 15 avril 2018

Russia at the UNSC: 'US-led strikes on Syria are Hooliganism, Washington and Allies could Stop the Conflict in 24 hours'

Russia's Permanent Representative to the United Nations Vassily Nebenzia's full speech at the UN Security Council on April 14, 2018, after the USA, UK and France carried out unilateral strikes against Syria.

Text and subtitles:


[…] Thank you, M. President.

Russia called for this urgent meeting of the Security Council to discuss the aggressive actions of the United States and their allies against Syria. This is the 5th meeting on this topic just this week. The President of the Russian Federation, [Vladimir] Putin, made a special statement today and I will quote him.

“On April 14, the United States, supported by its allies, launched an airstrike against military and civilian targets in the Syrian Arab Republic. An act of aggression against a sovereign state that is on the frontline in the fight against terrorism was committed without a mandate from the UN Security Council and in violation of the UN Charter and norms and principles of international law.

Just as one year ago, when the Shayrat Airbase in Syria came under attack, the US used as a pretext a staged chemical attack against civilians, this time in Douma, a Damascus suburb. Having visited the site of the would-be chemical attack, Russian military experts did not find any traces of chlorine or any other toxic agent. Not a single local resident was able to confirm that a chemical attack had actually taken place.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons dispatched its experts to Syria in order to investigate all the circumstances. However, in a sign of cynical disdain, a group of Western countries decided to take military action without waiting for the results of the investigation.

Russia condemns in the strongest possible terms the attack against Syria, where Russian military personnel are assisting the legitimate government in its counterterrorism efforts.

Through its actions, the US makes the already catastrophic humanitarian situation in Syria even worse and brings suffering to civilians. In fact, the US panders to the terrorists who have been tormenting the Syrian people for seven years, leading to a wave of refugees fleeing this country and the region.

The current escalation around Syria is destructive for the entire system of international relations. History will set things right, and Washington already bears the heavy responsibility for the bloody outrage in Yugoslavia, Iraq and Libya.”

Russia is doing everything possible to convince the United States and its allies to refrain from their military plans which could lead to a new spiral of violence in Syria and destabilize the Middle East.

The Secretary-General of the U.N., at the Security Council meetings that we convened yesterday and today, expressed his concerns about the way events have developed. However, Washington, London and Paris preferred to disregard calls to common sense. The United States and its allies continue to demonstrate blatant disregard for international law. As permanent members of the Security Council, they should be especially firm in protecting the provisions of the U.N. Charter.

It was shameful to hear how, in justifying the aggression, an article of the U.S. Constitution was mentioned. We have the greatest respect to the right of each State to respect their own founding law. However, it is time for Washington to learn that the international code of behavior regarding the use of force is regulated by the United Nations Charter. It is interesting how the people of Great Britain and France, what they will think when they find out their government is taking part in an illegal military venture by referring to the American Constitution.

You're constantly tempted by colonialism and neocolonialism. You have nothing but disdain for the U.N. Charter and the Security Council, which you are unjustifiably trying to use for your own aims. There is no significant work you are doing in the Security Council. You do not consult us and you mendaciously claim otherwise. You undermine the authority of the Security Council.

As a pretext for aggression, you mentioned the alleged use of chemical weapons in the Syrian city of Douma. Representatives of Russia, after an inspection by our experts, unequivocally stated that no such incident took place. Furthermore, we found people who took part in this staging. In fact, the organizers of that staging were foreign intelligence services. After this event, the Syrian authorities immediately invited experts. They conducted a field mission to Douma to establish the facts. Quickly, these formalities were resolved and guarantees of security were provided. At the time of the strikes, experts were already in Syria and getting ready to begin their work.

I want to recall to the members of the Security Council and to everyone else, that on the 10th of April, when our draft resolution on the secure work of the special mission of the OPCW was blocked, we were assured that such a document was not necessary. We were told that the mission, without any additional efforts by the Security Council, will go visit the site and conduct an investigation of the alleged Douma chemical incident. Now it is clear we were absolutely right.

Yesterday, some of our colleagues – some of them naively, some of them cynically – told us the reason of the situation, supposedly a lack of an independent investigative mechanism. The aggression has shown that that is not the issue at all, as we stated. During last year's attack against the Shayrat airbase, there was the Joint Investigation Mechanism (JIM) of the U.N. and OPCW. That did not prevent the United States from conducting a missile strike. Afterwards, in fact, the JIM made sure that its conclusions coincided with the reasons for the American strike.

We have said many times that you do not need any investigation. You did not need them then and you do not need them today. The organizers of the aggression did not even wait for the elementary establishment of facts by an international organization which is authorized to do that. They supposedly determine everything for themselves and determine who was guilty.

Given that they themselves, with the fighters that were under their control, disseminated all kinds of rumors using social media. They confirmed this through so-called secret intelligence. Mythical secret intelligence. Ladies and gentlemen, the White Helmets have once again fallen. We were already used to the fact that when they conduct their doubtful geopolitical policies, the countries that are aggressors already blame the ‘Assad regime’. Lately, they tend to shift responsibility on Russia, which according to their interpretation cannot control the dictator. All of this is based on a scheme that has been well tried. It is a provocation, mendacious accusations, a verdict, and punishment. Is this how you want international affairs to be conducted now? This is hooliganism in international relations, and not minor hooliganism, given that we are talking about major nuclear powers.

Several strikes were conducted against the scientific research centers in Barza and Jamaraya. Recently, two inspections by the OPCW were conducted with unlimited access to all facilities. Experts did not find any traces of activity that would contravene the chemical weapons convention. 

The scientific facilities in Syria are used only for peaceful activity aimed at enhancing the effectiveness of economic activity in Syria. You want Syria to have no economy at all? You want to throw this country back into the stone age? Just a few years ago this country was one of the most developed in the Middle East. You want to finish off what your sanctions have not achieved yet?

At the same time, you are shedding crocodile tears about the suffering of ordinary Syrians. Ordinary Syrians are tired of war and happy that their legitimate authority has freed their territory. You are not interested in their suffering. Your aggressive actions contribute to worsening the humanitarian situation, which you are so worried about according to your statements.

In 24 hours, you could stop the conflict in Syria. For this, Washington, London, and Paris only have to give orders to their hand-picked terrorists to stop their fighting against the legitimate authorities and against their own people.

The strikes were conducted against Syrian military airfields, which are being used in the course of an operation against terrorist organizations. It is quite an original contribution to the combat against international terrorism, which, as Washington keeps repeating, is the only goal of its military presence in Syria. We have serious doubts about that. It seems that it is clear that those in the West who cover themselves with humanitarian rhetoric in trying to justify their action in Syria supposedly to defeat the jihadists, are actually aiming at dismembering the country. This is confirmed by the fact that the United States have refused to take part in rebuilding the areas of Syria that have been freed from the jihadists.

Lastly, your aggression is a major strike and threat against the possibility of continuing the political process under the U.N. auspices, which in spite of objective difficulties, was moving forward at varying speeds. So what were your constant references to the Geneva process worth if yourselves are destroying that process with your own actions?

We call on the United States and its allies to immediately end the aggressive actions against Syria and to refrain from them in the future.

We are putting forward for your attention a brief draft resolution on which we will demand a vote at the end of this meeting. We would like to address the members of the Security Council. Today is not the time to shirk your responsibilities. The world is looking at you.Take a principled stand.

Thank you. 

Bolivia at the UNSC: 'US-led Strikes against Syria are an Attack on the Whole International Community'

Bolivia's Permanent Representative to the United Nations Sacha Llorenti's full speech at the UN Security Council on April 14, 2018, after the USA, UK and France carried out unilateral strikes against Syria.

Text and subtitles: 


Thank you very much, Mr. President.

My delegation would like to thank the Secretary General for his presence and participation in this meeting. Bolivia would like to thank the Russian Federation for having taken the initiative of convening this urgent meeting of the Security Council.

Today is a dark day in the history of this Council. Three Permanent Members of the Council have taken the decision to breach the Charter of the United Nations and take a unilateral action against the sovereignty and territorial integrity of another member State of our organization.

Bolivia wishes to clearly and categorically express its condemnation of the use of chemical weapons or chemical substances as weapons as this is unjustifiable and criminal wherever it happens and by whomever. Their use is a serious crime against international law, international peace and security. Those responsible for committing such terrible and criminal acts must be identified, investigated, prosecuted and punished in the most rigorous way. Bolivia continues to demand a transparent and impartial investigation to determine who are the culprits.

But in addition to that, the topic of this meeting is the fact that three Permanent Members of the Council as I said have used force in breach of the United Nations Charter. You cannot combat alleged violations of international law by violating international law.

Bolivia is surprised by the fact that the Permanent Members of the Council, given that they have a greater responsibility for maintaining international peace and security, have decided to bypass the United Nations when it suits them. They defend multilateralism as long as it serves them, and then they simply discard it. When it is no longer in their interests, they are no longer attached to multilateralism. 

Unfortunately, this is not the only case where unilateral action has been used. Let’s recall, and we will never tire of recalling it, the events in Iraq in 2003 and in Libya in 2011.

Any such action should be authorized by the Security Council, in accordance with the UN Charter. Any unilateral action is contrary to international law, contrary to the values and principles of the UN Charter and unacceptable. Bolivia rejects the threat and use of force.

Unilateral action not only responds to the specific interests of those who carry them out, but in fact, they are, and allow me the expression, imperialist measures. It so happens that Empires, as we stated earlier, consider themselves superior to the rest of the world. They think that they are exceptional, they think that they are indispensable, and hence, they think that they are above the law, above international law.

But in fact, the real interest of those who unilaterally use force and violate the United Nations Charter is not to advance democracy or advance freedom, or to combat the use of chemical weapons. Their goal is to expand their power and expand their domination.

What we have witnessed over the past few hours is an attack against the fact-finding mission of the OPCW which hasn't even started their work that was scheduled to begin today. This unilateral attack is an attack against multi-lateral organizations such as the OPCW. It’s an attack against this Council and its main duty of maintaining international peace and security. It is an attack against the UN Charter. And it is an attack against the entire international community.

I ask the Permanent Members who used force just a few hours ago, how much money they invested in arming and training the armed groups in Syria? Which national resources are they coveting? And with which moral authority will they be able to invoke the United Nations Charter in other situations?

Unfortunately, the History of violations of the principles and purposes of the UN Charter is long. We mentioned Libya, Iraq, but there are more recent chapters. It happened with the unilateral decision regarding Jerusalem, another clear signal of a lack of respect for international law. Who are those who sell weapons to those who bomb civilians in Yemen? Who are those who reject the Paris Climate Change Agreement? Who are those who stepped away from the international migration pact? Who are those who build walls?

But we also believe that it is important to evoke more ancient History. We are suffering the consequences, especially in the Middle East, of actions carried out by certain colonialist powers more than a century ago, and of their disdain for international law.  The same complete disdain for international law that we are experiencing now in Syria is also something that we have seen when, for example, the United Kingdom refuses to return the Falkland [Malvinas] Islands’ sovereignty to Argentina, or when the Chagos archipelago issue is not resolved, when the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on this topic is not heeded. In other words, we are talking about a whole range of policies that undermine international peace and security.

The Permanent Representative of the United States says that the United States, her country, is ready, is “locked and loaded”, she says. Of course, we clearly heard her words with a great deal of concern and a great deal of sadness. We know that the United States have aircraft carriers, satellites, “intelligent missiles”, smart bombs, and a huge arsenal of nuclear weapons. We also know that they have nothing but scorn for international law. 

But we have this, we have the principles and purposes of the UN Charter [he picks up an exemplary and shows it]. And ultimately, as History has demonstrated many times, ultimately, these principles will prevail.

Thank you very much.