Remarks to the Press by Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations
A: What questions were raised at the consultations?
Q: I was preempted by the US because they knew I would raise it but I’d raise it anyway. But first I raised the issue of the press statement on the Russian Trade mission in Damascus and earlier on the Russian center for humanitarian assistance that we proposed to adopt yesterday, US and UK yet again refused to adopt it.
On the attack on pro-government forces I said that it was inadmissible by whatever reasons it was justified. I reminded that they are in Syria illegally. They were not invited there by the Syrian government. They claim all the time their only aim is to fight the international terrorism but we see that it goes beyond it. And to confront those who really fight the terrorists on the ground, on the Syrian side is criminal.
Q: The US were coordinating with you before that attack?
A: They said they did not. I mean, they said they had no information. That is what I heard from reports and the explanation they gave us.
Q: What information do you have about this US attack? Have you got any information or the number of casualties on the stage?
A: I heard reports about a hundred casualties but I just read it from the press. I don’t have any confirmation.
Q: Pentagon claimed they informed Russia about this attack before its happening.
A: I cannot comment it. I am not in the Ministry of Defense. If they told anything they would do it through the military channels, not through us.
Q: How many casualties? Russia’s casualties?
A: Not to my knowledge.
Q: Only the idea that maybe there could be a statement on humanitarian situation? Was any progress in this meeting on that?
A: I drew attention today to the article in “Washington Post” that clearly misrepresented Russian position on the PRST on humanitarian situation that the Council could not adopt. It says that Russia blocked adopting that statement while in fact we were ready to adopt it in the way it was preliminary agreed again. These were other delegations who said they cannot adopt already agreed text. This article in “Washington Post”, it is not coincidental. They did not get this information from the air – somebody told them and misrepresented our position. Now, after the success of the Congress of the Syrian National Dialogue, we clearly see the intensification of efforts to defame Russia on Syria and to question its role in the political settlement. The meeting that we are having today is also in that frame. Because the humanitarian situation in Syria today, although bad and deplorable, is in no way much more different that it used to be a month ago. But now we are being presented with it as if something dramatic has happened. And what we did in our statement, we addressed every aspect of that humanitarian situation on the ground in every region and area. Every situation in various parts of Syria is different and has specific character. We explained in that region or that area why there is no access and who is responsible for that. And if you look at the picture region by region you will see it quite differently.
Q: What do you think is the reason of this being characterized differently, what’s your view of that. You said it was pretty similar a month ago, explain to me why do you think this is happening?
A: I have already explained. As soon as we have some progress on the political front we see this again and again. And two areas where they target are chemical dossier and humanitarian dossier.
Q: About that pilot that his plain was downed. There were reports that he
Q: What about reports that Russia is clearing the way to Syrian jets to drop chemical weapons on the Syrian civilians?
A: I don’t want to use non-parliamentary expressions to answer your question. These reports are a shame. Again these “chemical episodes” start to happen out of the blue when something is going on positively on the political front. And that’s clear for us as well. That’s the other side of the same coin.
Q: Russia is saying as being aggressor by supporting the Syrian military…
A: Who said that Russia was an aggressor? We were invited by the legitimate Syrian government to help defeat terrorists, which we have been doing since 2015, while the U.S. was never invited to Syria. Who is the aggressor, tell me? What’s your answer?
Q: My answer is just from reports, from opposition on the ground and pictures showing the example of damage caused by Russian and Syrian aggression?
A: That’s also in the same vein of blasphemy that I told you about.
Q: What about the statement of the Security Council on the terrorist attack in Damascus?
A: We have already raised that issue, we asked them what happened during today’s consultations. I would like to draw your attention that yesterday we yet again were refused to make a statement of the Security Council on the recent terrorist attack. Our trade mission in Damascus was damaged and the humanitarian mission beforehand. We offered the standard text but we were told by US and UK they were not ready to accept it. That’s very regrettable. That happens continuously in recent time.
Q: About the UN call for a one-month ceasefire in Syria, what is your position about that?
A: You understand that it is not realistic. We would like to see a ceasefire and the end of war in Syria but are not sure this agreement would be fulfilled by the terrorists.
Q: On the US airstrikes that killed a hundred and plus. Were any Russians put in harm’s way by these strikes.
A: Not to my knowledge.
Q: The fact, it is over a hundred apparently. That’s a really large number. Does it need some sort of strong response here at the Council?
A: We will discuss it later today. Let’s be realistic. You know that response needs consensus and I am not sure that we will be able to reach it on that.
Q: You want the product of the Security Council after this meeting?
A: We are not supposed to have any product, we’re meeting for consultations.
Q: A question about the Turkish operation in Afrin. What is the latest Russian position about this? Do you think it’s should stop or Russia is coordinating that?
A: You saw official statements by Russia that we call on the restraint in this situation.
Q: A quick question on North Korea. Does Russia have any objections to the North Korean delegation attending the Olympic in South Korea.
A: What do you mean “objections”? How can we object to that? No, we welcome it, of course. Any moves that would contribute to the peace process are welcome.
Q: And your ambassadors’ meeting with the P3? Do you think it result in any change of position?
A: Which meeting with the P3?
Q: I saw a picture where your Ambassador to Pyongyang met with Nikki Haley, Delattre.
A: He met with the P4, in fact. It was very useful, because he gave them first-hand information on the situation in North Korea, some insights they were very interested to hear. I think that it was useful.
Q: Did you hear the Secretary General may meet with some of the North Korean delegation while in North Korea. Do you think it would be useful if he did that?
A: As I said, any moves which contribute to the sides’ coming closer are welcome.