Geneva-2 preparations Syria: Moscow unhappy

Russia and Syria

21 October, 2013

Moscow unhappy with intention of Friends of Syria Group to discuss Geneva-2 preparations separately

Moscow is opposed to unofficial discussions on the Syrian settlement and is surprised that preparations for the Geneva-2 conference has been declared as a part of the agenda of the Friends of Syria Group meeting in London on October 22, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

"We have always aspired when working on Syria to act as a consolidated platform and to avoid various unofficial - separate, to be precise - discussions. The UN Security Council Resolution 2118 passed on September 27 namely calls for joint work. The fact that the agenda of the meeting mentioned includes preparations for the international conference on Syria, raises questions," the Russian Foreign Ministry quoted Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov as saying in a statement posted on its website.




Vladimir Putin: Letter to America

Photo from Vladimir Putin’s personal archive

September 12,  2013

Recent events surrounding Syria have prompted me to speak directly to the American people and their political leaders. It is important to do so at a time of insufficient communication between our societies.

Relations between us have passed through different stages. We stood against each other during the Cold War. But we were also allies once, and defeated the Nazis together. The universal international organisation - the United Nations - was then established to prevent such devastation from ever happening again.

The United Nations' founders understood that decisions affecting war and peace should happen only by consensus, and with America's consent the veto by Security Council permanent members was enshrined in the United Nations Charter. The profound wisdom of this has underpinned the stability of international relations for decades.

No one wants the United Nations to suffer the fate of the League of Nations, which collapsed because it lacked real leverage. This is possible if influential countries bypass the United Nations and take military action without Security Council authorisation.

The potential strike by the United States against Syria, despite strong opposition from many countries and major political and religious leaders, including the Pope, will result in more innocent victims and escalation, potentially spreading the conflict far beyond Syria's borders.

A strike would increase violence and unleash a new wave of terrorism. It could undermine multilateral efforts to resolve the Iranian nuclear problem and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and further destabilise the Middle East and North Africa. It could throw the entire system of international law and order out of balance.

Syria is not witnessing a battle for democracy, but an armed conflict between government and opposition in a multireligious country. There are few champions of democracy in Syria. But there are more than enough Qaeda fighters and extremists of all stripes battling the government.

The United States State Department has designated Al Nusra Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, fighting with the opposition, as terrorist organisations. This internal conflict, fuelled by foreign weapons supplied to the opposition, is one of the bloodiest in the world.

Mercenaries from Arab countries fighting there, and hundreds of militants from Western countries and even Russia, are an issue of our deep concern. Might they not return to our countries with experience acquired in Syria? After all, after fighting in Libya, extremists moved on to Mali. This threatens us all.

From the outset, Russia has advocated peaceful dialogue enabling Syrians to develop a compromise plan for their own future. We are not protecting the Syrian government, but international law. We need to use the United Nations Security Council and believe that preserving law and order in today's complex and turbulent world is one of the few ways to keep international relations from sliding into chaos.

The law is still the law, and we must follow it whether we like it or not. Under current international law, force is permitted only in self-defence or by the decision of the Security Council. Anything else is unacceptable under the United Nations Charter and would constitute an act of aggression.

No one doubts that poison gas was used in Syria. But there is every reason to believe it was used not by the Syrian army, but by opposition forces, to provoke intervention by their powerful foreign patrons, who would be siding with the fundamentalists. Reports that militants are preparing another attack - this time against Israel - cannot be ignored.

It is alarming that military intervention in internal conflicts in foreign countries has become commonplace for the United States. Is it in America's long-term interest? I doubt it. Millions around the world increasingly see America not as a model of democracy but as relying solely on brute force, cobbling coalitions together under the slogan "you're either with us or against us".

But force has proved ineffective and pointless. Afghanistan is reeling, and no one can say what will happen after international forces withdraw. Libya is divided into tribes and clans. In Iraq the civil war continues, with dozens killed each day. In the United States, many draw an analogy between Iraq and Syria, and ask why their government would want to repeat recent mistakes.

No matter how targeted the strikes or how sophisticated the weapons, civilian casualties are inevitable, including the elderly and children, whom the strikes are meant to protect.

The world reacts by asking: if you cannot count on international law, then you must find other ways to ensure your security. Thus a growing number of countries seek to acquire weapons of mass destruction. This is logical: if you have the bomb, no one will touch you. We are left with talk of the need to strengthen non-proliferation, when in reality this is being eroded.

We must stop using the language of force and return to the path of civilised diplomatic and political settlement.

A new opportunity to avoid military action has emerged in the past few days. The United States, Russia and all members of the international community must take advantage of the Syrian government's willingness to place its chemical arsenal under international control for subsequent destruction.

Judging by the statements of President Obama, the United States sees this as an alternative to military action.

I welcome the president's interest in continuing the dialogue with Russia on Syria. We must work together to keep this hope alive, as we agreed to at the Group of 8 meeting in Lough Erne in Northern Ireland in June, and steer the discussion back toward negotiations.

If we can avoid force against Syria, this will improve the atmosphere in international affairs and strengthen mutual trust. It will be our shared success and open the door to cooperation on other critical issues.

My working and personal relationship with President Obama is marked by growing trust. I appreciate this. I carefully studied his address to the nation on Tuesday. And I would rather disagree with a case he made on American exceptionalism, stating that the United States' policy is "what makes America different. It's what makes us exceptional".

It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation. There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. Their policies differ, too. We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord's blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.



Photo from Vladimir Putin’s personal archive:



Moscow: US gives inaccurate interpretations


Moscow: the US gives inaccurate interpretations of the situation regarding possible use of chemical weapon in Syria 

July 13, 2013

Russia urged the US to review the confirmed information and to stop giving inaccurate interpretations of the situation regarding possible use of chemical weapons in Syria.

Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesman, Alexander Lukashevich said ''the US statement is an inaccurate interpretation of the state of affairs regarding the international investigation in the use of chemical weapons in Syria.''

Lukashevich was commenting on the claims made by Jen Psaki, the spokesperson for the United States Department which accused Russia of hindering the UN Security Council efforts to ensure the access of UN experts to probe into possible use of chemical weapons in Syria.

Russia's Permanent Representative to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, said on Tuesday that Moscow is exerting efforts with the UN Security Council to facilitate UN experts' access into Syria to investigate the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian opposition on March 19th in Khan al-Assal in Aleppo countryside.

M. Ismael


Photo: victims of American chemical warfare in Vietnam


Whistleblower Edward Snowden in Moscow


Whistleblower Edward Snowden has reportedly stayed overnight at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport. The former CIA contractor, who left Hong Kong in a bid to elude extradition to the US on espionage charges, is on his way to a ‘third country’ via Russia.

The plane allegedly carrying Edward Snowden landed in Moscow shortly after 5pm local time on Sunday.

Crowds of press and bystanders were hoping to grab a glimpse of the world’s most famous whistleblower, but to no avail, although the confirmation has arrived that he is in the terminal building.

After Edward Snowden's plane touched down in Moscow, Ecuador’s Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino announced via twitter that Snowden had apllied for asylum. Meanwhile, Ecuador’s ambassador to Russia, Patricio Chavez, arrived at Sheremetyevo Airport allegedly to greet Snowden.

Read more on: http://rt.com/news/snowden-fly-moscow-aeroflot-125/ 


Latest News Syria: Russia and Italy plead for political solution

Syria.Minister, Sergey Lavrov.conference.Italian.minister.Emma Bonino.jpg

Russia, Italy: No preconditions for international conference on Syria 

Jun 15, 2013

Russian and Italy on Saturday said they share the position that there is no alternative to the political solution in Syria and they support holding the international conference on Syria due in Geneva to implement what was agreed upon in Geneva communiqué issued on June 30th of last year.

"Our joint stance is that there is no alternative to the political solution to the crisis in Syria," Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, told a joint press conference with his Italian counterpart, Emma Bonino, in Moscow.

He pointed out that last year "everybody agreed on taking part in the international dialogue process in which all segments of the Syrian society are to participate," expressing thanks for the Italian Foreign Minister's support to holding the international conference.

Bonino, for her part, stressed the importance that the upcoming international conference on Syria be based on what last year's Geneva meeting agreed upon.

"This process should be carried out without preconditions…and the decisions should be taken at the end of the process," she said.

She indicated a difficulty in getting this mission done, saying "We know how hard this is, and usually the outcomes of such conferences depend on the parties' readiness for compromises."

Lavrov indicated in this context to the preconditions set by certain groups of the "Syrian opposition", namely those demanding the "departure" of President Bashar al-Assad.

He criticized Russia's Western partners' commitment to the opposition's logic on the need to "remove the regime from power" and take over some cities as prerequisites to start dialogue.

"In that case, it wouldn't be possible to start the dialogue," said Lavrov.

Lavrov: Syrian regime is not in dilemma

The Russian Foreign Minister slammed the West's "conflicting statements" on the issue of using chemical weapons as being among the factors which hinder the international efforts to hold the international conference on Syria.

Lavrov recalled the previous Western statements which said that the "regime" was likely to use chemical weapons in case it found itself in a dilemma, stressing that the "regime" in Syria is not in a dilemma.

"On the contrary, the Syrian opposition says the regime is making great military achievements on the ground," said Lavrov, wondering "What is the use of the [Syrian] government using chemical weapons?…It's useless."

The Russian Foreign Minister stressed the absence of any reliable evidence that could prove that the Syrian government did use chemical weapons.

"The information and evidence which our American, British and French colleagues presented don't meet the standards of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons," said Lavrov, adding that this information has not been under continuous scrutiny and could not be confirmed.

Lavrov pointed out that the chance to conduct an international inquire into the use of chemical weapons in Syria upon the Syrian government's request was missed because of the steps which were taken by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

He clarified that Ki-moon failed to respond to Syria's request for an inquiry into the incident of chemical weapons use which took place last March 19th in Khan al-Assal in Aleppo countryside.

"Instead of sending a mission to that place, Ki-moom sent a message to Syria demanding to be allowed visits to all areas in Syria," Lavrov continued.

"We see in this a repetition of the Iraqi scenario, and everybody knows the consequences of implementing such a scenario," he warned.

The Russian Foreign Minister expressed his country's concern over the news and information on chemical weapons smuggle by the armed terrorist groups and the Turkish police's arrest of members from Jabhat al-Nusra with sarin gas in their possession, wondering how "we didn't notice any concern on the part of our Western partners regarding this issue."

Asked a question about the US's supplying the "opposition" in Syria with heavy weapons, Lavrov said "I haven't heard news about the U.S. government's desire to supply the Syrian opposition with heavy weapons…and according to our assessment, the Syrian regime didn't cross the red line."

Lavrov: Deployment of F-16 jets and Patriot missiles in Jordan is against international law

Lavrov referred in this context to the information provided by the Wall Street Journal deployment of U.S. F-16 fighter jets and Patriot missiles in Jordan, stressing that this issue is a violation of the international law.

"This equipment was deployed on the Jordanian territories and these missiles would fall the Syrian aircrafts from the Jordanian territories, and this is a violation of the international law," said Lavrov, voicing hope that "Our American colleagues participate more effectively in the preparations for the international conference on Syria."

Russian Foreign Ministry: UNHRC resolution on Syria biased, ignores crimes of extremists

The Russian Foreign Ministry stressed that the resolution of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on Syria is biased, unfruitful and addressed against the Syrian government while it ignores the crimes committed by the extremist opposition.

"The new biased resolution against Syria was initiated by the US, Britain, Qatar, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, and Turkey… some Arab states which preliminary backed the decision have eventually abstained from taking part in making this resolution," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Saturday.

The resolution includes a bid to legitimize the Doha Coalition while it ignores several moderate opposition groups which pledged commitment to human rights, the statement added.

Syria's permanent representative to the UN in Geneva Fayssal al-Hamwi said that the UNHRC draft resolution on human rights conditions in Syria is biased and full of lies and fabricated events, and claims of massacres in al-Qseir have never taken place.

H. Said/ F.Allafi



May Day Parade, Gorki Street, Moskow, 1961


Photograph from the collection of Dr. Anthony Terrana

William Klein

May Day Parade, Gorki Street, Moskow, 1961