Permanent Representation of the Russian Federation to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) is working in The Hague (the Kingdom of the Netherlands) on a permanent basis. It is involved in consultation with the Technical Secretariat of the OPCW, other delegations, and on behalf of the Russian Federation participates in the activities conducted by Organization, and provides connection between Technical Secretariat and Russian National Authority (Ministry of Industry and Trade of Russia) responsible for implementing the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction. 

Sessions of policy-making organs of the OPCW are held on a regular basis throughout the year: there are three sessions of the Executive Council and one session of Conference of the State-Parties at the end of a year. Russian Permanent Representation to the OPCW informs Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia about developments in discussions on current issues during informal consultations conducted in the intercessional period and supports Russian delegations which come to take part in the work of the policy-making organs. 

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Ambassador, Permanent Representative to the OPCW  - H.E. Mr. Alexander V. SHULGIN

Deputy Permanent Representative to the OPCW - Mr. Igor S. VISHNEVETSKY

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Comment of the Permanent Representation of the Russian Federation to the OPCW

Неофициальный перевод

 

Comment of the Permanent Representation of the Russian Federation to the OPCW on the claims by the Technical Secretariat about Syria and Russia’s participation in the investigation of the chemical weapons use in Aleppo in 2018

 

The OPCW Fact Finding Mission in Syria (FFM) churns out with surprising regularity its reports in which indirectly (as it goes beyond the FFM mandate) indicates the involvement of the Syrian government military in the chemical weapons use. It was well illustrated in the cases of Khan Sheikhun, Al-Ltamenah, Sarakib and Douma.

However, the FFM leadership does not bother at all that the main sources of evidence in all these cases are opposition forces and pseudo-humanitarian NGOs that work on the orders of Western countries. Moreover, the Technical Secretariat prefers to simply turn a blind eye to the revealed facts of falsifications and provocations as it was in the case of the Douma. And not only to that. The Secretariat has simply ignored testimonies of eyewitnesses of the staged chemical attack in Douma organized by the White Helmets. Russia and Syria brought these witnesses to the OPCW headquarters and here at the press conference they told about everything that they have seen. The FFM Douma report missed this information at all.

Quite the opposite happens when it comes to the evidence submitted by Russia and Syria about the use of toxic chemicals by opposition forces in Syria. For some reason it is always considered by the FFM to be insufficient and still requiring additional confirmation. And that’s what happens, in particular, in the case of the investigation of the high profile incident of the chemical weapons use in Aleppo on 24  November 2018.

We were surprised to read in the regular report by the Director-General on the progress in the elimination of the Syrian chemical weapons program dated 24  April 2020 that since May 2019 the Technical Secretariat has made several requests to the Syrian Arab Republic and the Russian Federation to provide the information, including data collected by the chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) specialists of the Russian Federation regarding this allegation. One can read between the lines that the Secretariat constantly requests the assistance in the investigation and remains empty-handed. This is Russia and Syria that hamper the completion of its work as soon as possible.

Where does this slyness, or rather, disinformation, leads to? The Permanent Representation of Russia to the OPCW notified the Technical Secretariat in two Notes Verble that all samples collected at the site of the incident – fragments of ammunition, soil particles, scrapings from household items – had been handed over to the FFM leadership. It was done not directly, but via representatives of the Syrian national authority on the CWC, to which the Russian side provided assistance in collecting the relevant evidence.

We gave additional detailed explanations on this subject during the March session of the OPCW Executive Council. The head of the Russian delegation in his statement emphasized that the FFM already possessed all the data that we could provide (the statement is posted on the OPCW website). We proceed from the assumption that it is sufficient to conduct a full-fledged investigation. The same was done by our Syrian colleagues, who confirmed in a Note Verbale of 30  March 2020 addressed to the Technical Secretariat that all the information they had, including that received from the Russian side, was handed over to the FFM.

Nevertheless, the above-mentioned report of the Director-General once again contains the complaints that Russia and Syria, allegedly, do not provide the required assistance to the Secretariat. We are not satisfied with such scenario that resembles the FFM investigation of the chemical attack by the militants in quarter 1070 of Aleppo.

Particularly surprising looks the statement that the Technical Secretariat in a Note Verbale dated 21  April 2020 reiterated its request to obtain access to the samples, analysis results, and other information collected by the Russian Federation CBRN specialists in relation to the Aleppo incident, and to be provided with names and given the possibility to interview the Russian CBRN personnel. Incredible deafness.

We recall that the OPCW Technical Secretariat declines to disclose the personal data of the FFM members as it allegedly poses a threat to their personal safety. Although these experts with rare exceptions visit the sites of incidents (almost the only example is Douma, where, by the way, their safety and security was guaranteed by the Syrian military and representatives of the Russian military police).

According to the OPCW Technical Secretariat, the names and nationality of some mysterious “independent” third-party experts who performed ballistic and other studies in the interest of finding the truth in Douma are a great secret. Their technical documents are deemed to be confidential as well. The findings of these experts out of a sudden confirm that the chlorine cylinders were dropped from the air, and not manually dragged into the premises by the “White Helmets” provocateurs – as it was in reality.

The same Technical Secretariat, who had covered everything with the “veil of secrecy”, now in an ordinary way asks to disclose the names of the Russian military who work in battlefield environment in Syria. Therefore their personal information is indeed a truly confidential information.

This is nothing but an amazing hypocrisy, double standards and absolute bias. Behind all this we see an apparent reluctance of the FFM under utterly hollow pretext to bring to a logical end the investigation of the circumstances of the chemical incident in Aleppo. Whose order do you execute, gentlemen?

Today, the Permanent Representation of the Russian Federation to the OPCW sends one more Note Verbale to the Technical Secretariat with another notification that all the material evidence collected by Russian military experts on the incident in Aleppo on 24  November 2018, was transferred through the Syrians to the FFM. It is now up to this special mission to draw the necessary conclusions.

We hope that at least this time we will finally be heard.