| UNSC resolution on Syria won’t be under Chapter 7 allowing use of force – Lavrov!

UNSC resolution on Syria won’t be under Chapter 7 allowing use of force – Lavrov ~ RT.

The resolution that the UN Security Council is to adopt in support of the plan to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons won’t refer to Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, regulating the use of military force on behalf of the council, Sergey Lavrov says.

The foreign minister explained Russia’s position on the future document after meeting his French counterpart Laurent Fabius in Moscow.

The resolution, Lavrov stressed, is meant only to affirm the support of the UNSC to the roadmap for destruction of the chemical weapons stockpile, which will be penned by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

It will also outline measures which fall outside of the OPCW authority, particularly providing security for the organization’s inspectors, who would oversee the process on the ground in Syria. But the resolution would not include any references to Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, which grants the Security Council a right to use military force to restore peace, Lavrov stressed.

“The resolution of the Security Council, which will approve the decision of the OPCW executive council, will not be over Chapter 7. We said it distinctly in Geneva and the document that we agreed on says no single word about it,” Lavrov said.

Russia has brokered a deal under which the Syrian government agreed to scrap its chemical weapons arsenal to defuse tension that sparked after a sarin gas attack on August 21. The agreement, prepared by Russia and the US, put on hold American plans to use military force against Syria over the attack, which Washington blames on Damascus.

Earlier US Secretary of State John Kerry said that Russia is committed to imposing Chapter 7 measures in case of Syria’s non-compliance with its obligation to destroy its chemical weapons. Lavrov explained that the Security Council would be closely monitoring OPCW’s mission in Syria and will take action, if it finds concrete proof that some party is actively undermining the process.

The UNSC would act on such occurrences, which may be Syria drawing away from the deal, some other party hampering the destruction or possibly somebody using chemical weapons again, Lavrov said. But such actions will be considered on a separate basis.

“The Security Council would certainly review [any of such reports] to establish the truth as soon as possible, to ensure that those reports are not provocations – and we had plenty of those in the past two years and all of them were aimed at provoking a foreign intervention. If the proof is convincing, the Security Council certainly must take measures against violators,” the minister said.

As for the future resolution on dismantling Syria’s chemical arsenal, it would be a litmus test for the UNSC, Lavrov said.

“We may grab on to Chapter 7 every time somebody claims that the regime or the opposition used chemical weapons and encourage playing on emotions, which is unacceptable when taking serious decisions. Or we may rely on professionals, who must evaluate thoroughly, impartially and objectively every piece of such information and report to the Security Council,” he said.

Russia asks West not to encourage belligerent opposition

The Russian and French ministers said they agreed that the goal of the international community now is to gather an international conference in Geneva, which would find a political solution of the crisis and establish a transitional government in Syria.

Lavrov said Moscow is prepared to set a date for such a conference anytime, because the Assad government had agreed to it and presented its delegation. It is the opposition which is dragging its feet and refuses to participate, he stressed.

“The [opposition] National Coalition vocally opposed the Russian-American plan to destroy Syrian chemical weapons… because they were expecting that the problem would be solved through a military intervention. And they were disappointed after the intervention failed to materialize and the issue went to the strictly diplomatically-legal framework,” Lavrov pointed out.

He asked the Western backers of the Syrian opposition, who have leverage on them, to use it and force those forces to participate in the peace conference. He also added that some statements from Russia’s partners regarding personalities in the Syrian government do not help with that goal.

“The more often and louder statements from some capitals, including Washington, European and Middle-Eastern countries come saying that Assad is a criminal and that he has no place on Earth other than at The Hague Tribunal, the more defiant becomes this coalition, which claims the right to represent the entire Syrian people,” he explained.

Kerry insisted that Syria’s future has no place for Bashar Assad on Monday, following his meeting with Fabius and British Foreign Secretary William Hague. He added that Washington expects Assad’s stepping down to be part of a future political resolution agreed on in Geneva. Russia insists that it is up to Syrians to decide the terms of the transition.

Report of contention

Lavrov and Fabian met a day after the UN released a report on the incident, which confirmed that chemical weapons were indeed used on that day in Syria. The inspectors behind the report were not authorized to name a suspected culprit in the attack, and the evidence they presented is now subject to conflicting interpretations.

Several countries, including the US and France, believe the evidence is unquestionably identifies the government of Bashar Assad as the party that carried out the attack. The French minister reiterated Paris’ position in Moscow, adding that French intelligence data points to that conclusion.

Russia insists that the evidence is not conclusive and says the report should be considered along with other information, including accounts from local witnesses and media reports, which indicate that the attack had been carried out by the rebels.

“We asked questions at the Security Council meeting we had after hearing the report findings. The report doesn’t explain whether the munitions used in the attack was produced at a factory or was home-made. It doesn’t answer our other questions. So the document needs careful study in conjunction with other evidence currently available online and in the media,” Lavrov said.

He added Moscow has good reasons to treat the incident as a rebel provocation aimed at drawing the US military into the Syrian conflict.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, right, and his French counterpart Laurent Fabius have a meeting in the Russian Foreign Ministry's mansion (RIA Novosti / Eduard Pesov)

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, right, and his French counterpart Laurent Fabius have a meeting in the Russian Foreign Ministry’s mansion (RIA Novosti / Eduard Pesov)

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| ‘No sensation, only standing contracts’ – Lavrov on Russia’s weapons supplies to Syria!

No sensation, only standing contracts – Lavrov on Russia’s weapons supplies to Syria ~

Russia’s weapons supplies to Syria are fully in compliance with the law and do not give the government troops any advantage over the rebels, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said commenting on the hype in Western media.

I don’t understand why mass media are trying to make a sensation out of the fact. We do not conceal it that we supply weapons to Syria according to signed contracts, violating neither any international agreements, nor our own weapon export control legislation, one of the strictest in the world,” Lavrov said at a press conference on Friday.

He stressed all of the weapons supplied are in fact air defense systems, and thus cannot impact the existing power balance between the Assad forces and the rebels.

Lavrov’s remark comes in response to the recent uproar in the media, concerning Russia’s allegedly sending Yakhont anti-ship cruise missiles to Syria and earlier reports on supplies of S-300 anti-missile systems, which are capable of intercepting ballistic targets.

Later in the day US State Department spokesperson Jennifer Psaki also stated that Washington has no information regarding the reported supplies of anti-ship cruise missiles.

Anti-aircraft S-300V missile system (RIA Novosti)

Anti-aircraft S-300V missile system (RIA Novosti)

Russia has underlined on numerous occasions any supplies to Syria are according to old contracts, many of which are Soviet-era, the supplied weapons are missile-defense ones and after completing these contracts no new deals are planned.

Lavrov and Ban talk Syrian deadlock as more evidence of rebels atrocities emerge

The Russian FM commented on Russia’s weapons supplies at a press-conference following his talks with the UN chief. The Syrian crisis dominated the agenda of the meeting, which is part of a recent flurry of diplomatic efforts to end the violence in the country, preceded by Vladimir Putin holding similar talks with worlds’ top officials, including the US secretary of state and the British and Israeli leaders.

The S-300 is a series of Russian long range surface-to-air missile systems, designed to intercept ballistic missiles and regarded as most potent weaponry of its class.

The Yakhont supersonic cruise missiles can carry 200kg warheads as far as 300km long, they are also capable of cruising several meters above the water surface, making them difficult to detect.

Eventually, a joint initiative was authored by Moscow and Washington to hold peace conference on Syria, planned for June.

Before the conference happens though, both the US and Russia have several stumbling blocks to overcome, such as divisions inside the Syrian opposition, making it unclear who exactly can represent it at the conference, and harsh preconditions set by the rebels.

In contrast to the Syrian government, which has responded quite positively to the Russian-American initiative, the opposition’s answer was quite vague. They said that they welcome any initiatives that will help to stop the violence, but before that Assad must go – reiterating their stance, which has been the cause of the deadlock for many months, ” said Lavrov on Thursday in an interview to Al Mayadeen.

As for the US it is expected to object to Iran’s participation, on which Moscow insists.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, left, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at a news conference following the talks in Sochi. (RIA Novosti)

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, left, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at a news conference following the talks in Sochi. (RIA Novosti)

Another thing is that when Western leaders are talking to Russia they seem to be on the same page with Moscow’s position, agreeing on the need for negotiating peace, but as soon as they leave, they are once again calling for Assad to step down and promise increasing support to the rebels.

The UK and France have become increasingly vocal in their calls to supply the insurgent groups with arms. British and French efforts at lifting the EU embargo on Syria are however strongly opposed by Austria, showing a divide on the issue in Europe.

Meanwhile, the situation in Syria aggravates with more reports of atrocities on both sides of the conflict.

Human Rights Watch has issued a report providing evidence of torture used in a government prison in the city of Raqqa, in eastern Syria. Human rights activists were allowed by opposition forces who gained control of the city to examine the facility.

A shocking video from the same city, released this week shows three men from the government troops being publicly executed by rebels in the city square. The killings have been confirmed by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

And the episode added up to a series of reports on atrocities performed by the rebels, which emerged this week.

Earlier, another YouTube video was posted showing fighters of the Al Qaeda-linked Al-Nusra Front in Syria executing 11 government soldiers. Still earlier this week another shocking video was released featuring a Syrian rebel eating a lung of a slain government soldier in what the insurgent described as an act of revenge.

Growing evidence of atrocities committed by rebel groups, however did not prevent the UN from voting for a resolution condemning Assad and praising the opposition. Russia voted against the document, describing it as one-sided.

Russia still urges all of the sides to resolve the crisis by negotiations, something Lavrov reiterated on Friday, saying a peace conference should be held “the sooner the better.

He was echoed by Ban Ki-moon’s call to “not lose the momentum.”

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