Russia’s top diplomat demands probe into Syrian chemical attack
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov renewed calls for an independent investigation into the chemical incident in the Idlib province of Syria that killed as many as 100 people, APA reports quoting sputniknews.
On Wednesday, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov emerged from a closed-door summit in the Kremlin to discuss their two-hour meeting with President Vladimir Putin. While the two sides agreed that they "understand each other better," Moscow and Washington have distinctly different perspectives on what should take place in Syria, specifically as it pertains to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's claims to power.
Tillerson noted that the Idlib strike was planned, directed and executed by Syrian government forces. The US diplomat said Damascus has used chlorine bombs and other chemical weapons on more than 50 prior instances, adding that there is a good deal of evidence suggesting that the Assad regime is guilty of war crimes.
Lavrov disputed the validity of Washington's allegations against Assad. On Wednesday, Lavrov said an "unbiased international investigation" into the matter is the only appropriate way forward, reminding reporters that "no proof" has been disclosed that renders Assad culpable for the attack.
Lavrov said the United Nations ought to lead such an investigation. He noted that the UN Security Council ought to refrain from a creating a resolution in response to the incident until an objective probe is completed. Lavrov observed that any resolution condemning Damascus without the results of an investigation would be "counterproductive." He denied Russia has the intention to "shield anyone" from international law prohibiting the use of chemical weapons.
Lavrov also declared that the military hotline connecting Moscow and Washington regarding operations in Syrian airspace could be restored only if the Pentagon focuses its military efforts on Daesh and other extremist groups. Lavrov noted that the Obama administration refused to target the Al-Nusra Front, otherwise known as the Syrian sect of Al Qaeda. The deconfliction channel was cut by Russian President Vladimir Putin following the April 6 US strike on the Syrian government's Sha'irat airfield in the province of Homs.
The Russian Foreign Minister also said that President Putin was willing to reinstate a flight safety memorandum meant to prevent clashes between US and Russian air forces over Syrian airspace. Like the hotline, the memorandum was suspended by Moscow following the US strike.
Tillerson maintained that the US has "high confidence" in Washington's assertion that the Syrian government was behind the chemical attack. He also said there was nothing to suggest Russian forces were involved in the use of chemical weapons.
But Lavrov wants proof. "We would like to see any evidence, any hard practical evidence," he said. "So far we haven't seen any, and I would like to stress once again: what we are doing in Syria, we are doing based on the request of a legitimate government that is a member of the UN… we are there to fight terrorism. It is in our best interest to stop [Daesh] and Al-Nusra from reigning in Damascus."
On Tuesday, Tillerson accused Moscow of failing to locate and destroy Assad's chemical weapon stockpile.
"It is unclear whether Russia failed to take this obligation seriously or Russia has been incompetent, but this distinction doesn't much matter to the dead. We can't let this happen again," Tillerson said.
Lavrov replied by criticizing the American strike on Sha'irat as "unlawful."
"We have seen very alarming actions recently with an unlawful attack against Syria." he told reporters. "We consider it of utmost importance to prevent the risks of replay of similar action in the future."
Related news releases
- 19.03.2018Putin urges his rivals to maintain dialogue, pool efforts in the country’s interests
- 18.03.2018Voting begins in Russian 2018 presidential election
- 17.03.2018Russia, Iran, Turkey to assist UN to draft constitutional reform in Syria - Lavrov
- 14.03.2018Moscow not connected to ex-spy’s poisoning: Kremlin
- 14.03.2018Moscow welcomes Turkey’s request for prompt S-400 delivery, Lavrov says
- 14.03.2018Turkish, Russian presidents to meet in Ankara on April 3 – FM
- 14.03.2018Syria, S-400 to be in focus at talks of Russian, Turkish foreign ministers
- 10.03.2018Putin on U.S. election interference: ‘I couldn’t care less’
- 07.03.2018Russia’s Mi-8 helicopter crashes in Chechnya
- 05.03.2018Russia has evidence West trying to save Nusra front for regime change - Lavrov
- 05.03.2018Putin’s adviser: Russia ready to disconnect from global Internet
- 03.03.2018Kremlin rejects U.S. charge Russia in breach of arms control treaties
- 02.03.2018Armen Sarkissian elected 4th President of Armenia
- 01.03.2018Putin: ‘No one listened to us then, so listen to us now’ - REPORTAGE
- 01.03.2018Putin announces Russia possesses hypersonic weapons
- 28.02.2018Shooting kills at least two, injures two in Kazan, Russia
- 26.02.2018Car carrying Armenian PM’s bodyguards crashes in Yerevan
- 24.02.20183 Georgians kidnapped in South Ossetia
- 22.02.2018Russian President met with the heads and deputy defense ministers of several countries
- 22.02.2018Ex-Georgian leader banned entry to Ukraine till 2021
- 20.02.2018Ukrainian president signs Donbass reintegration law
- 20.02.2018Dozens of Russian, CIS citizens killed & injured in recent clashes in Syria – Foreign Ministry
- 20.02.2018Russia summons Ukraine's representative over attack on building in Kiev
- 16.02.2018Russian toll in Syria battle was 300 killed and wounded: sources
- 16.02.2018Truck with 2,500 loaves of bread hijacked in Russia
- 15.02.2018New US sanctions pose no serious threat to Russian economy, russians - Medvedev
- 15.02.2018Reports of scores of Russians killed in Syria are disinformation by anti-govt forces - Moscow
- 14.02.2018Presidents of Russia and Ukraine hold a telephone conversation
- 13.02.2018Lavrov says ‘aggressive minority’ in West impedes establishment of relations with Russia
- 09.02.2018Former governor of Sakhalin region Khoroshavin sentenced to 13 years in jail for bribery
- 07.02.2018Russia favors making UN Security Council more efficient
- 06.02.2018Russian, Kazakh FMs discuss preparations for Caspian Summit
- 06.02.2018Russian Central Election Commission registers Putin as presidential candidate
- 04.02.2018Russian Defense Ministry Releases Video of Su-25 Downing Over Syria - VİDEO
- 04.02.2018Russian weapons deliver strikes on area from which Su-25 was shot down , 30 militants killed
- 03.02.2018Russia’s Foreign Ministry notes anti-Russian focus of US nuclear doctrine
- 02.02.2018Russian CEC chairwoman disapproves of Kremlin spokesman’s statement
- 02.02.2018Armenia: 10-year-old girl kidnapped for debts
- 02.02.2018Russia says U.S. 'hunting' for Russians to arrest around the world
- 01.02.2018UN envoy for Syria highlights role of Sochi congress for Geneva process, says Lavrov
- 13.04.2017Former head of Russia's Mari El Republic detained over suspected bribe-taking
- 13.04.2017Belarus pays off $726 mln gas debt to Russia's Gazprom
- 13.04.2017Russian and Turkish presidents hold phone conversation
- 12.04.2017Putin says trust erodes under Trump, Moscow icily receives Tillerson
- 12.04.2017Russian, Iranian and Syrian foreign ministers to meet in Moscow
- 12.04.2017Putin: Almost half of foreign Islamic State militants are from CIS countries