04:59 GMT15 June 2021
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    Alleged Poisoning Attack on Russian Ex-Spy Skripal in UK (226)

    Blaming Skripal's poisoning on Moscow, Western states are trying to push Russia aside from discussing cases of chemical weapons usage in Syria, according to the Russian Foreign Ministry's spokeswoman.

    On Issue of Chemical Weapons

    The Russian Foreign Ministry's spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, noted that chemical weapons remain a key issue in the decision-making process for all countries, as the legitimacy of Bashar Assad's power in Syria is always being linked to it by Western countries and the US-led coalition.

    READ MORE: OPCW to Receive Results of Sample Analysis in Skripal Case by Next Week

    "Before, we were told that Assad just had to leave, because he was bad but then this concept was abandoned. Now they say that he is bad and must leave because he violates international law using chemical weapons in Syria," she said.

    The representative went on, saying that the West is trying to play the same card in the current row over the Skripal poisoning.

    "Thus, inventing the story about the alleged use of chemical weapons by Russia on British soil, Western countries are trying to push Russia aside from the legal field of discussion of issues pertaining to the chemical weapons in Syria. Under the pretext that there is nothing to talk about with Russia, as they claim Russia has used chemical weapons in Europe," Zakharova added.

    Earlier in the day, the British side presented its own version of why Russia proposed to convene an extraordinary session of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Council. According to the UK permanent representative to the OPCW, John Foggo, Russia wants to use the organization's meeting scheduled for April 4, the date on which a year ago a chemical attack in Syria's Khan Sheikhoun took place, in order to make a political statement.

    "For all of us gathered here, it is very sad to admit that chemical weapons attacks continue not only in Syria. Today marks exactly one month since the usage of the nerve agent here in Europe," he said.

    After the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria's Eastern Ghouta in January, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson accused Damascus of using chemical weapons and also claimed that Russia was responsible for the victims because of its engagement in Syria.

    READ MORE: Russia Concerned, Outraged Over US Claims on Attacking Syria — Moscow

    The Russian Foreign Ministry back then said that Washington was spreading propaganda against Moscow in an attempt to demonize the Syrian government and subsequently topple it, underscoring that the information on the chemical attacks used by the United States was uncorroborated.

    In October 2017, the OPCW report alleged that the Syrian government was responsible for the April 4 sarin attack on the Syrian city of Khan Sheikhoun, claiming that the nerve gas used during the attack had been taken from stockpiles belonging to the Syrian government. However, the latter was destroyed as part of a 2013 deal with the US and Russia — a process the OPCW itself signed off on as having been completed that November.

    Damascus has constantly denied that it possesses chemical weapons, the destruction of which had been confirmed by the OPCW.

    On Russian Media

    Russia would like to receive clarifications from the US State Department after accounts of Russian media outlets were blocked on Facebook, the Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said.

    "We expect an official reaction to this situation from US authorities … we would very much like to hear official comments from the US State Department," she told a briefing.

    She called on Facebook to specify its issues with Russian media accounts and explain reasons behind its decision to block them.

    READ MORE: Facebook, Instagram Delete Dozens of Russia-Linked Accounts

    On Tuesday, Russia’s Federal News Agency (FAN) said that Facebook had blocked its official page without any warning. Also on Tuesday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that the company blocked more than 270 accounts and pages run by Russia's Internet Research Agency.

    On Russian Vessel Detained in Ukraine

    Moscow summoned the Ukrainian temporary charge d'affaires in Russia on Wednesday to protest the detention of a Russian ship and to demand the release of its crew as well as the return of the vessel, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

    "On April 3, the charge d'affaires ad interim of Ukraine in the Russian Federation was summoned to the Russian Foreign Ministry where he was handed a protest note in connection with the illegal detention of Russian fishing vessel Nord by the Ukrainian Border Guard Service on March 25 in the Sea of Azov, the transfer of the vessel to the port of Berdyansk and illegal custody of its 10 Russian crew members," spokeswoman Maria Zakharova noted.

    READ MORE: Russian Navy Disproves Dangerous Manoeuveres between Russian and UK Vessels

    According to Zakharova, Moscow demanded the immediate release of the illegally detained crew and the return of the vessel to its legitimate owner.

    On March 26, Ukrainian border guards detained the Russian ship Nord, claiming that its crew had violated its maritime boundary. The Russian Foreign Ministry has demanded that the Ukrainian side return the captured ship, which is in the Ukrainian port of Berdyansk, and release its crew.

    Alleged Poisoning Attack on Russian Ex-Spy Skripal in UK (226)


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    chemical weapons, Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Sergei Skripal, Khan Sheikhoun, Syria, Russia, United Kingdom
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