04:17 GMT07 March 2021
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    It is useless to try to speak with Moscow from the position of ultimatums, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in response to the US state secretary's remarks on Russia-Syria relations.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Traveling to Russia with ultimatums is useless, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said ahead of US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's meeting with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Wednesday.

    "It seems to me that everyone has already understood that it is useless to travel to us with ultimatums, it is simply counterproductive," Zakharova told Russia's Dozhd TV broadcaster.

    On Tillerson's comments in Italy on Tuesday urging Moscow to abandon support for the Syrian government and labeling its president as an "unreliable partner," Zakharova said "I generally do not see it as an ultimatum."

    On Tuesday, Tillerson arrived in Moscow with his first official visit to Russia and is expected to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov later in the day. According to the US state secretary, Russia needs to make a choice between working with the United States or staying in an alliance with Syrian President Bashar Assad.

    The West has accused the Syrian government of carrying out the alleged chemical weapons attack in Idlib province on April 4 and criticized Moscow for its support for Damascus despite Russia's call for a thorough investigation into the incident. In an exclusive interview with Fox Business on Wednesday, US President Donald Trump blamed the current situation in Syria on Moscow's support for country's Assad, calling the Syrian leader "an animal."

    On April 6, the United States launched 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at the military airfield in Ash Sha’irat, located in the vicinity of the Homs city, which Trump said was a response to the alleged chemical weapon use. Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem denied the government’s involvement in the Idlib incident, saying it had never used chemical weapons on either civilians or terrorists operating in the country and will never do so.

    After a major chemical weapon attack in Syria's East Ghouta in 2013, the country joined the Convention on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. In January 2016, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) announced that all chemical weapons in Syria had been destroyed. Assad said that the country’s government had never used weapons of mass destruction, including chemical weapons, against the Syrian people.


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