Russia rubbishes London over Sergey Skripal Case

The Foreign Minister for the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov has rubbished claims that, its government was connected to the poisoning of a former spy in London.

According to the Mr. Lavrov, the accusation coming from London is nothing but “nonsense.”

He said the Russian Federation had nothing to do with the Sergey Skripal current situation and cannot be blamed for it.

“We have already made a statement, which is that it is all nonsense. Maria Zakharova laid it out more politely. We have nothing to do with it. Everyone seems to be so brainwashed that our blogosphere is already full of comments that turn things upside down,” the Foreign Minister intimated.

Mr. Lavrov made the statement in response to questions from the media last week in Moscow.

He denied having compared the Skripal case to that of Alexander Litvinenko’s who also was poison in Landon and Russia was blamed for it.

“I read with amazement on one blog that I had claimed it was unacceptable to compare the Alexander Litvinenko case and the Skripal case. I said exactly the opposite. They asked this question during my last trip to one of the African countries. I said, there was a similarity with the former case – when we began to cooperate with the investigators, it was classified, and we were told that we could not have all the information.”

The Foreign Minister therefore urged the journalists to report exactly what he is saying.

“Pretty much the same is happening this time around. We are given nothing in return for our request. So please, again, I beg you, please report all I am saying now, in detail, rather than limit your report to what I am imagining.”

On whether or not Moscow will cooperate with Landon in finding out the exact cause and chemical which was issued to poison Skripal, he stated that, “Russia is not guilty. Russia is ready to cooperate in accordance with the Convention on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, if the United Kingdom condescends to fulfill its international obligations under the same document.”

Below is the full Q&A

SKRIPAL CASE

FOREIGN MINISTER SERGEY LAVROV’S ANSWERS TO MEDIA QUESTIONS, MARCH 13, 2018

Question: How will Russia respond to British Prime Minister Theresa May’s demand to provide an explanation over the poisoning of Sergey Skripal in one day? What will Moscow’s reaction be if the British government takes the promised restrictive measures in this case?

Sergey Lavrov: We have heard the ultimatum from London. Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova has already commented on our attitude to this. I can only add that Great Britain, as well Russia, are part of the Convention on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, and the Prime Minister and the Secretary for Foreign Affairs are well aware of this. I have no doubt that there are still plenty of experts who work with this convention and its issues, and those of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons established in accordance with this convention. I think (actually, I am sure) that they have their experts but evidently nobody is listening to them.

According to the Convention on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, in cases of suspected use of a toxic substance banned by the convention the country affected should immediately address the country that is suspected of the production of this particular poisonous substance. The query must be answered within ten days. If the answer does not satisfy the first country (Britain in this case) it should address the OPCW Executive Council and the conference of the states parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention. The side that is being asked about the substance has every right to receive an access to it so as to conduct its own analysis. We did this as soon as the rumours spread, by almost everyone in British leadership, that the substance was produced in the Russian Federation. We sent an official note asking for access to this substance so our experts could analyse it in accordance with the Convention on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. In the same note, we requested access to the facts linked with the investigation, considering that one of the victims, Julia Skripal, is a Russian national.

We only received a vague answer to justified request that is based on the Convention on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. In effect, it was rejected. So, instead of demanding that we respond to the British government’s ultimatum within 24 hours, it would be better for them to comply with their own commitments regarding international law, in particular the obligations under the Convention on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. As for manners, it should be remembered that the era of colonialism has long past.

Question: We have still not heard your response to British Prime Minister Theresa May’s statement. It seems that Moscow is not taking the situation seriously. I would like to understand what needs to be done to avoid confrontation.

Sergey Lavrov: I understand that you need to present information that is commensurate with the sentiment in London. I have stated what the UK needs to do before Russia answers its questions. We have not received the request that London is required to send in accordance with the Convention on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. […]

[…] Question: Can you rule out Russia’s involvement in the Sergey Skripal case?

Sergey Lavrov: You’re a strange one. I said that we are members of the Convention on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, as is your country, which, for some reason, neglects to use the expertise of those who know what obligations the United Kingdom has. If the procedures envisaged in the Convention are fulfilled, I assure you that the Russian Federation will fulfill its obligations and respond to the corresponding request in the time allocated to prepare a response.

In turn, we are waiting for the United Kingdom to respond to our request, sent in accordance with this same Convention, to provide the substance in question, and to make the whole investigation open to us because it involves a Russian national.

If I have not explained this clearly enough, we will certainly make a transcript of my answers to the first and additional questions, will send it to the BBC in the hope that this time around, you will not censor it before publishing or broadcasting it to your listeners and viewers.

Question: Still, can you rule out Russia’s involvement in the Skripal case?

Sergey Lavrov: We have already made a statement, which is that it is all nonsense. Maria Zakharova laid it out more politely. We have nothing to do with it. Everyone seems to be so brainwashed that our blogosphere is already full of comments that turn things upside down. I read with amazement on one blog that I had claimed it was unacceptable to compare the Alexander Litvinenko case and the Skripal case.

I said exactly the opposite. They asked this question during my last trip to one of the African countries. I said, there was a similarity with the former case – when we began to cooperate with the investigators, it was classified, and we were told that we could not have all the information. Pretty much the same is happening this time around. We are given nothing in return for our request. So please, again, I beg you, please report all I am saying now, in detail, rather than limit your report to what I am imagining: “Asked whether Russia is guilty, Mr Lavrov fudged the issue.” Russia is not guilty. Russia is ready to cooperate in accordance with the Convention on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, if the United Kingdom condescends to fulfill its international obligations under the same document.

STATEMENT BY PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION TO THE OPCW, AMBASSADOR ALEXANDER SHULGIN, AT THE 87TH SESSION OF THE OPCW EXECUTIVE COUNCIL ON THE CHEMICAL INCIDENT IN SALISBURY,
THE HAGUE, MARCH 13, 2018

Mr Chairperson,

In connection with the vicious attacks launched by British officials in London, as well as the statement by the head of the British delegation to the OPCW with regard to Russia concerning the suspicious story of two persons poisoned with a toxic agent in Salisbury, we would like to state the following.

The British authorities’ unfounded accusations of Russia’s alleged involvement in using poisonous agents on their territory are absolutely unacceptable. Our British colleagues should recall that Russia and the United Kingdom are members of the OPCW which is one of the most successful and effective disarmament and non-proliferation mechanisms. We call upon them to abandon the language of ultimatums and threats and return to the legal framework of the chemical convention, which makes it possible to resolve this kind of situation.

If London does have serious reasons to suspect Russia of violating the CWC – and the statement read by distinguished Ambassador Peter Wilson indicates directly that this is so – we suggest that Britain immediately avail itself of the procedures provided for by paragraph 2 of Article 9 of the CWC. They make it possible, on a bilateral basis, to officially contact us for clarifications regarding any issues that raise doubts or concerns.

We would also like to emphasise that such clarifications under the Convention are provided to the requesting member state as soon as possible, but in any case no later than 10 days following receipt of the request. As such, the ultimatum’s demand that information be provided immediately, by the end of today, is absolutely unacceptable.

Our British colleagues should save their propaganda fervour and slogans for their unenlightened domestic audience, where perhaps they will have some effect. Here, within the walls of a specialised international organisation, such as the OPCW, one must use facts and nothing but the facts. Stop fomenting hysteria, go ahead and officially formalise your request to begin consultations with us in order to clarify the situation. A fair warning, we will require material evidence of the alleged Russian trace in this high-profile case. Britain’s allegations that they have everything, and their world-famous scientists have irrefutable data, but they will not give us anything, will not be taken into account. For us, this will mean that London has nothing substantial to show, and all its loud accusations are nothing but fiction and another instance of the dirty information war being waged on Russia. Sooner or later, they will have to be held accountable for their lies.

In addition, in this particular case, it would be legitimate for the British side to seek assistance from the OPCW Technical Secretariat in conducting an independent laboratory analysis of the available samples that allegedly show traces of nerve agents in Salisbury.

Thank you, Mr Chairperson.

We ask you to circulate this statement as an official document of the 87th session of the OPCW’s Executive Council and post it on the Organisation’s external server.