Following on from my earlier article, below is the statement made yesterday – March 13 – by Ambassador Alexander Shulgin to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons at the Hague. I agree that the UK government need to abandon the “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.”
This request seems the most reasonable solution to the current diplomatic freeze and the safest regarding what has now become a tactical impasse – which makes an escalation of hostilities more likely.
Mutual cooperation from both member states on this matter with an independent, international arbitrator, while operating within a framework of our international norms and laws, would open up possibilities to prevent this conflict from escalating further, which could ultimately end with potentially catastrophic consequences all round.
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.
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.
You can read the original statement document here.
In the Commons today, Jeremy Corbyn says a “robust dialogue” is needed with Russia to protect national security. He also stressed the need to gather evidence and abide by international law, underlining the essential role of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), based in The Hague. This rational and responsible approach is one that the public expects from a leader.
He said: “If the government believes that it is still a possibility that Russia negligently lost control of a military-grade nerve agent, what action is being taken through the OPCW with our allies?”
Corbyn then asked: “How has she responded to the Russian government’s request for a sample of the agent used in the Salisbury attack, to run its own tests?”
He added: “Has high-resolution trace analysis been run on a sample of the nerve agent and has that revealed any evidence as to the location of its production or the identity of its perpetrators?
“And can the Prime Minister update the House on what conversations, if any, she has had with the Russian Government?”
May attacked Corbyn, saying the Russians had “already been given the chance to explain where the nerve agent had come from” and that the government had sought “consensus.” We don’t want consensus, we want reliable evidence, truth and proportionality in responses.
Corbyn also said: “It is is moments such as these that Governments realise how vital strong diplomacy and political pressure are for our security and national interest.” He is absolutely right.
Aiming criticism at the ranting, diplomatic disaster that is Boris Johnson, who was, as ever, visibly outraged and angered by Corbyn’s comment, the opposition leader said: “I couldn’t understand a word of what the Foreign Secretary just said, Mr Speaker, but his behaviour demeans his office.”
One MP claimed, somewhat irrationally, that Corbyn’s cautious, rational and measured response is “appeasement”.
However, Corbyn is absolutely right to ensure the UK response is fair, based on sound evidence and follows international norms and protocols.