After the U.S.-U.K.-France strike on Syria, the Russian MFA Spokesperson accused Washington of collaborating with the extremist groups in Syria, Russian MP Aleksandr Sherin went as far as to compare U.S. President Donald Trump to Adolf Hitler.
Below are official reactions by Russian diplomats and policy makers to the strike in Syria:
(Source: Ria.ru, April 10, 2018)
Russian FM Lavrov: The Strike Was Illegitimate And Unacceptable
At the 26th Assembly of the Council for Foreign and Defense Policy in Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said:
"The point at issue is the explanations our Western partners are providing to justify their absolutely illegitimate and unacceptable actions. As you may have heard, U.S. President Donald Trump, UK Prime Minister Theresa May and President of France Emmanuel Macron have been saying over the past few days that they have irrefutable evidence that, first, chemical weapons were used in the city of Douma in Eastern Ghouta, and second, that it was unquestionably done by Bashar al-Assad who issued the order. In this connection I would like to remind you that we heard exactly the same words a year ago and even earlier, when those same White Helmets reported that sarin gas was used in Khan Sheikhoun, Idlib Province, and that this was absolutely beyond any doubt. Our Western partners grasped at that and began presenting very questionable videos, as they did in the case of Douma, as irrefutable evidence. We were insisting that OPCW inspectors should go to the incident site. We were told that security conditions did not allow for that. Then miraculously it appeared that the OPCW gained information from the British and the French that they had obtained samples from Khan Sheikhoun which were analyzed in laboratories in France and Great Britain, and there was no doubt that they contained sarin. As sensible people, we contacted the French and the English and asked them how the samples had been obtained. If they had reached as far as Paris and London, it means that it was done by people who were able to function in the security conditions in Khan Sheikhoun at that moment. We asked why in that case we couldn’t use the services of those same people to ensure the safety of the OPCW inspectors who would go there and collect the samples in full compliance with the procedures under the Convention on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, and analyze those samples according to their routine. Our partners evaded our questions and said there was no need to do that since the facts were irrefutable in any case. Then we asked them if they could share those facts with us so that we could be sure that everything was as it should be. We were told it was a secret. And you know the rest.
"It is the same regarding Douma. There are irrefutable facts that we are being told about now to justify the strikes. Apart from citing the media and social networks, as well as the video that is quite amusing for specialists, no other evidence has been presented. However, French President Macron, who publicly announced that he had irrefutable evidence confirming the use of chemical weapons in Douma by the Assad regime, as they call it, had a telephone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin yesterday, during which Mr. Putin mentioned the public statement by the French leader concerning the availability of those facts and asked him to share them. Because if this were true, we would be the first to want to curb this illegal activity – the use of chemical weapons. The reply was the same: it’s a secret. They cannot present the evidence because it is not their secret. However, it was still used by those same people who do not want to share the source in order to launch strikes. Everybody realizes, of course, that it happened a day before the OPCW inspectors, who had already arrived in Beirut, were to travel to the incident site to either confirm or refute the presence or absence of evidence proving the use of chemical weapons there. By the way, they have again confirmed their readiness to travel to that area in Douma to carry out their mission. We will come back to that later. I hope they will be allowed to do it this time.
"Last year’s and this year’s episodes have another common feature, which is the following. When the White Helmets spread their news on April 4, 2017, Rex Tillerson called me and said that they know that the chemical weapons had been delivered by an air bomb, and that the aircraft took off from the Shayrat airfield. He asked us to secure the Syrian government’s agreement to allow inspectors, including U.S. experts, to come to that airfield to verify the facts. We obtained such consent but before we were able to relate it to Washington, the US had already launched strikes. This time, three days ago, a U.S. Embassy official visited our Ministry and among other things he set out the U.S. position and spoke about their confidence that they were right. We replied to him that our military experts in chemical radiation defense studied very carefully the site in question shown in the video, the hospital and everything around it, and did not find anything there. Then he asked if U.S. experts could go there, too. We said that it was a good idea and that we will make arrangements with Damascus. One day later, during the conversation between Russian President Vladimir Putin and French President Emmanuel Macron, Mr. Putin, as he replied to his French colleague’s claim that there was no doubt that the act had been committed by the Syrian government, suggested that French inspectors should be sent there so that they could study the situation on the ground together with Russian and U.S. experts. It was agreed that the defense ministries would keep in contact so as to put this idea into practice. None of our French colleagues ever contacted either our Defense Ministry or Foreign Ministry. And again, as you see, the air strikes were launched a short while after that.
"This is why we are so meticulous about establishing facts. We have been told far too often that there was evidence: regarding the U.S. election meddling, former U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson stated publicly that they have irrefutable facts, and when we asked him to produce them he replied that they would not do that. Allegedly, our special services are perfectly aware how we interfered in their election. We want to focus on the facts in this and a number of other cases, including with regard to the so-called Skripal case.
"As you are aware, our British colleagues are refusing to answer dozens of questions on that case, which were asked on different dates and even updated by us. They answer that we did not respond to any of the questions they posed to the Russian side. Let me remind you that London asked only a single question of us, and it was meant for Russia to confess how Novichok was delivered to London – either on the order from Russian President Putin or due to Russia’s negligence in losing control over its chemical stocks. This is all the question came down to. Whereas the questions we asked were utterly specific and based on the Convention’s provisions.
I have just been given a report that the Pentagon justified the U.S. strike on Syria before the release of the OPCW report by the fact that Damascus had blocked access for experts trying to reach Eastern Ghouta. This is not true. We have been monitoring the situation virtually by the minute. The Syrian government was to immediately issue visas at the border without any additional formalities. The experts would have gone from Beirut, and upon reaching the Syrian border they would have received their visas. This has been officially confirmed. The OPCW knows about this, and if they know, the Americans cannot say that they do not."
(Mid.ru, April 14, 2018)
MFA Spokesperson Zakharova: Washington's Goal Was To Let The Extremists Catch Their Breath
Russian MFA Spokesperson Maria Zakharova stated during her weekly briefing:
"Our assumptions have been confirmed, the actual goal of the three Western countries was to let the extremists catch their breath, restore their ranks and prolong the bloodshed on Syrian soil thus hindering the political settlement process."
(Tass.com, April 19, 2018)
Director of MFA Nonproliferation Dept. Ermakov: Russia Regained Its Status As Guarantor Of Peace
The director of the Russian Foreign Ministry's nonproliferation department, Vladimir Ermakov, said:
"The American myth regarding the epoch of their universal and unchallenged domination has existed barely for a decade, and is currently in tatters. Russia has regained its historical preferred position as one of the guarantors of international stability and justice, based on international law."
(Ria.ru, April 15, 2018)
Russia's Representative To The OPCW Shulgin: The Chemical Attack Was Staged With The Help Of The White Helmets
Russia’s Permanent Representative to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Alexander Shulgin said on Monday after the Council’s session.
"We handed out corresponding materials demonstrating that what happened in Douma on April 7 was well-orchestrated. A representative of the Russian defense ministry made a very important statement. Facts were given to show how the White Helmets, this pseudo-humanitarian non-government organization, work off the money they receive from Western sponsors, first of all, from the United States and Great Britain, to stage various sorts of provocations."
(Tass.com, April 17, 2018)
Russia's Representative To The UN Nebenzya: The U.S. Undermine the UNSC Authority
Russia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Vasily Nebenzya said at a UN Security Council meeting, while addressing to the U.S. representative to the UN Nikki Haley : "Everything proceeds according to a defined scheme that worked out before : [first] a provocation, then false accusations, a false verdict and [real] punishment. Is that how you want to run international issues? This is a hooliganism in international relations– and it is not petty hooliganism, since we are talking about key nuclear superpowers…. You treat the UN charter with disdain, you do not work things out in the UNSC, you do not consult with us, while falsely avowing exactly the opposite. You undermine the UNSC's authority".
(Ria.ru, April 14, 2018)
Duma Chairman Volodin: The U.S. Should Be Stopped
State Duma Chairman Vyacheslav Volodin: "Those actions unequivocally constitute aggression – dragging European countries into it won't lead to anything good… The consequences will most negatively impact the attempts to fight international terror. As a result, this will not only place the Syrian people in jeopardy, but other countries as well – the European countries first and foremost… The U.S. is plunging the world into a war – it must be stopped."
(Ria.ru, April 14, 2018)
Russian MP Sherin: Trump Is A Criminal
Aleksandr Sherin, first deputy chair of the Duma defense committee, stated:
"Trump is a criminal– an understatement). It's possible to call him our contemporary Adolf Hitler the Second, since he chose the same that Hitler did when he attacked the Soviet Union."
(Ria.ru, April 14, 2018)
Russian Scholar Naumkin: The Syrian Air Defense Forces Shot Down Most Of The Missiles, For Russia, That Means A Victory
Russian scholar Vitaly Naumkin posted on the Valdai Discussion Club website:
"It is already said a lot about the current intervention of the allies, but it will take time to understand it in all the details. By strikes on Syria, U.S. and their allies achieved the demonstrative effect only partially. It was achieved, because like in the previous illegal bombings of sovereign states (Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya, etc.), they exhibited their military power, unprecedented arrogance and readiness to completely ignore the international law. It was partial because the Syrian Air Defense Force shot down most of the missiles (while being far from the most modern and perfect, produced in Russia/USSR more than three decades ago – according to the Russian Defense Ministry, 71 out of 103 cruise missiles). For the Americans the only benefit is that their military-industrial enterprises are to receive many new orders for the production of the Tomahawks. Most of the missiles were prudently launched from sea and air beyond the Syrian airspace.
"For Russia, that means a victory. The Russian-made weapons have coped very well with the task. Possibly, based on agreements we can only divine, our military did not have to get involved in the hostilities and employ the state-of-the-art air defense systems S-300 and S-400. Miraculously, the airstrikes led to no casualties not only among the Russian military and civilian specialists, but also among Syrian soldiers. However, they did cause exaltation among the opposition fighters who hope to repeat the false flag operation involving chemical weapons, which would push Washington and its allies to launch a new military campaign.
"At the same time, commanders of the armed groups were disappointed by the U.S. president’s statement that this action was not aimed at 'regime change', being, moreover, a one-off, punitive and warning operation. If it is impossible to accuse Assad of the use of chemical weapons once again, they ask, does that mean that he may act more confidently, having showed his strength in East Ghouta? It is significant that Moscow can now return to the issue of supplying Syria with the S-300 systems, something it restrained from, taking into account concerns of some partners (Israel)."
"It should be noted that despite the acute rhetoric, all the conflicting parties have in the course of recent events displayed various degrees of restraint and responsibility to prevent escalation from happening. Even today, Russia, judging by the official statements, intends to act by diplomatic rather than military methods. In the Middle East, even the U.S. allies are dissatisfied with Washington’s self-imposed actions: here they assess negatively any violations of sovereignty by the global actors, even if for tactical reasons, some neighbors of Syria and Iran would like to weaken them.
"Nevertheless, the tripartite coalition has managed to achieve yet another goal set by its leaders: to drive a wedge between Russia, Turkey and Iran. The Turkish leadership has predictably supported the limited attacks on Syrian targets. However, strictly speaking, the differences in the position of the three countries regarding the Syrian problem were obviously impossible to hide even before that. And the very fact that the “guarantor-states” format of their cooperation, despite all these differences, not only persisted, but also continues to develop, could be explained by the cementing role of Moscow, which skillfully avoids dangerous corners with the help of the Astana process diplomacy and powerful dynamics of the bilateral relations."
(Valdaiclub.com, April 16, 2018)
Russian Intellectual Lukyanov: The Strike Was Meant To Be A Reminder For Moscow
Russian Intellectual Fyodor Lukyanov stated:
"The strike against Syria is merely an expanded version of last year's action, which had a purely demonstrative character. The goals, then as now, are to demonstrate that the U.S. is ready and able and ready to apply force where it deems necessary. Then and now there is no further strategy. An added value for the U.S. from the current strike is the participation by allies, with whom the Trump Administration has difficult relations. The allies – not without hesitations – supported Washington. The major signal though was intended for Russia – this is a reminder that Moscow is unable to prevent Washington's actions if it decides to do something."
(Kommersant.ru, April 14, 2018)
- Statement by President of Russia Vladimir Putin: "Russia condemns in the strongest possible terms the attack against Syria, where Russian military personnel are assisting the legitimate government in its counterterrorism efforts." (Kremlin.ru, April 14, 2018; Read the full statement)
- Statement by the Russian Foreign Ministry: "There is no escaping the fact that the aggression has taken place at a time when the Syrian troops are pressing on with their successful assault on ISIS, Jabhat al-Nusra and other terrorist groups. To all appearances, the United States and its allies want to give radicals and extremists a chance to catch their breath and restore their ranks in order to prolong bloodshed on the Syrian territory and thus hinder political settlement. "It is becoming absolutely clear that those in the West who hide behind humanitarian rhetoric and try to justify their military presence in Syria by the need to finish off jihadists, in reality share their goals and are working towards breaking up the country. This conclusion is proved out by the categorical refusal of the USA and its allies to assist in the restoration of the Syrian regions liberated by the government army." (Mid.ru, April 14, 2018; Read the full statement)
- During a briefing with the media, Chief of the Main Operational Directorate of the Russian General Staff Colonel General Sergei Rudskoy said: "It is to be stressed that several years ago given the strong request by our western partners, Russia opted out of supplying the S-300 AD [air defense] systems to Syria. Taking into account the recent incident, Russia believes it possible to reconsider this issue not only regarding Syria but other countries as well." (Eng.mil.ru, April 14, 2018; Read the full statement)