Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Statement by the Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations V.A.Nebenzia at UN Security Council meeting on the letter issued by UK dated 13 March 2018

Mr. Chairman,

We would like to thank Mrs. Nakamitsu for her briefing. We are very thankful to the British side which organized today’s briefing. We have been impatiently awaiting it. However, to our regret, we did not hear anything new today.

When I listen to some of my colleagues, I have the impression that this is no longer “Alice in Wonderland” but rather “Alice Through the Looking Glass”. Our western colleagues are not at all interested in discovering the truth and not only in this issue. They do not listen to us and do not want to hear our arguments. We have a saying in Russian which has the following English equivalent: “We are discussing apples and oranges with them”.

Today we heard the same lies that the UK has been repeatedly using to mislead international community. It is claimed that the UK has not received answers to the questions which it had posed to us. I would like to remind once again that these “questions” where contained in the famous 24-hour ultimatum which in a sense waters down to only one question: “Why did you do it?” Nevertheless, some British allies with stubbornness which could be better displayed elsewhere echo London: “You need to answer British questions and cooperate with the UK”. Maybe you have some other questions which we lack, could you share them with us since the UK does not send us any additional questions. We would be very grateful to you.

We hear the same set of unproven accusations allegedly supported now by the OPCW authority. I will tell you blankly – the OPCW report contains nothing that could help the British side prove its fake claims about Russian involvement in Salisbury incident. There is one most important thing that the British side was so eager to see there but failed – the conclusion that the substance used in Salisbury had been produced by Russia. On the contrary, the express analysis by OPCW only confirms that such a substance could have been produced by any laboratory that has necessary equipment. The fact is that in order to make comparative analysis one needs to possess some specimen of this toxic substance. Such kind of laboratories exist on British soil (the famous Porton-Down) as well as in the US and in the number of other countries. The formula of this substance is well-known since 1998 when it was included into the data base of the American Institute of Standards by the Edgewood Center for Defense Studies of the US Army. Moreover, if you run a search of key word “Novichok” at Google Patents in the web, you will find more than 140 patents issued only in USA related to the usage of this toxic substance and protection from it.

One month and two weeks have passed since Salisbury incident on 4 March but there are more and more holes in this story which is all very airy-fairy. On the contrary, the number of such holes only multiplies with amazing speed. We are not surprised by the line of action chosen by London. Early today at the session of OPCW Executive Committee the British Representative who was as usually basing his statement on lies and disinformation about motives, methods and means used by Russia declared once again: “Russia has a proven record of conducting state-sponsored assassinations”. I have a question: proven by whom? Naturally, this was followed by numerous references to the “Litvinenko case” supported by arguments relying on the “new notion” of the British legal system: “President Putin probably approved it”, “The Russian state may have been involved”, “The Russian state may have sponsored”, “There have been numerous suspected Russian state-sponsored attacks”.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Everything that we see and hear today is a kind of déjà vu.

We already came across same things with the case of Alexander Litvinenko’s poisoning. I mean complete lack of transparency about its actions from the British side which until now hides any documented information that could help to establish the whole picture of what has happened to Mr. Litvinenko. To those who are unaware about the details I will say that this information was simply classified by the UK.

In case of the OPCW Technical Assistance Group’s report of 12 April London was acting on the basis of the same “modus operandi”. The British side forbade to the OPCW experts not only to mention what kind of technical assistance was required by them in the declassified part of the document in question which amounts to 1,5 pages, but also to call by name the toxic chemical element identified by Porton-Down. London chose to hide this information in the classified part of the report. If it became subject of discussion in the open format of the Council meeting that would have constituted a breach of the OPCW confidentiality rules. It is obvious for us why it was done.

Okay, since the British side deprives member of the Council of their right to discuss the provisions chosen by London to be included in the substantive part of the report let’s discuss things that were not included there. Among them, first of all, any mentioning of the Russian Federation which fully corresponds to the conclusions earlier disclosed by Porton-Down. There is not a slightest mentioning of the most important information about how Sergei and Yulia Skripals as well as Nicolas Bailey were affected. There is equally no indication about their treatment records and methods.

You will not find there any explanations of how the toxic chemical element in question which if we believe to its inventor Mr. Mirzayanov “is highly unstable in humid environment” could be discovered in high concentration almost three weeks after the incident? There is not a single word that would explain why this substance which is claimed to be ten times more powerful than “VX” affected some of the victims only after seven hours from the moment of the incident while the others got affected immediately? Maybe Mr. Mirzayanov and Porton-Down speak about different toxic elements?

Besides, you will not find there any slightest logical explanation of why a non-decomposed toxic chemical element discovered by Porton-Down could be found in the blood specimen of one of the affected persons that was collected 18 days after she was exposed. Strangely enough the specimen of another victim that was more seriously poisoned were different. Such a situation is not only strange for nerve agents but also could indicate at the same time that highly likely the toxic chemical element discovered by Porton-Down had been injected in the blood of the victim who was in artificial coma before the taking of specimen in question and hence did not have enough time to react at biochemical level.

One very important question comes to my mind in this regard. On 5 April after I quoted British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson on Porton-Down possessing substance “A-234”, the Permanent Representative of Great Britain replied that the UK allegedly is entitled to conduct such tests for defensive means. Does it imply that respectful experts from Porton-Down tested and possess this and other toxic chemical elements which are not included in relevant OPCW lists? I believe that it is high time for Porton-Down experts to share, in the framework of preparing report by Scientific and Consultative Council of General Director of OPCW Technical Secretariat to the 4th Review Conference, with scientific world their studies of the substance “A-234” and probably other toxic chemical elements which represent a threat for the objectives of the CWC conducted for defensive means. But let’s not dream in vain – judging by the line of conduct chosen by the UK in the context of the Salisbury incident clearly indicates that this will never be done. The UK and its allies are simply not interested in a professional discussion. As for professional chemists and experts, they continue to question the official British version stronger and stronger with every day.

Mr. Chairman,

To our regret, we cannot help posing questions in the light of very loose interpretation of CWC by London. For instance, the British side always refers to the fact that it conducts investigation in accordance with Para.1 of Article VII of CWC. We could have agreed with rightfulness of such a reference if only such an investigation targeted physical and legal persons within the British jurisdiction which is not the case. I believe it is not necessary to make clear that Russia does not fall within the UK jurisdiction. Therefore, we ask the British side to clarify, whether the declarations by the Downing Street on the alleged involvement of Russia in the Salisbury incident represent an attempt to exercise political pressure on the detectives or final conclusions of Scotland-Yard investigation. Or is this normal for British legal system when the government first names the culprits and the detectives after that tailor their investigation to this conclusion?

I want to underline once again – any doubts as to the implementation in good faith of a certain member state of its obligations under CWC should be regulated by its Article IX. They must be regulated in such a way – we do not know any other meaning of the words “shall” and “should”. We would be grateful to English native speakers for their opinion in what cases these words can describe a non-obligatory action. This would be highly useful for our further practical work in the Council.

Since our numerous appeals to London to start cooperation stipulated by Article IX, as well as requests by the Office of Procurator-General of Russia on legal assistance in criminal cases put forward in accordance with Para.2 of Article VII are ignored, we do not have any other solution but to initiate ourselves a request foreseen by Para.2 of Article IX containing a number of questions to the UK on the Salisbury incident on 4 March. A corresponding Note Verbale was sent to the British side by Russian Representation in the Hague through the OPCW Technical Secretariat.

We are therefore convinced that in order to reinforce CWC the Director-General of OPCW Technical Secretariat has to prepare and introduce at the next meeting of OPCW Executive Council in accordance with Para.5 of Article XV of CWC a draft decision which would change the annex on chemical substances lists. Such a decision would allow not only to officially classify the substance “A-234” as a nerve agent but also to place it and its precursors under systematic supervision of OPCW. That is exactly the step that should have been long time ago made by those countries who, as we discovered today, happened to have all the necessary data for such a measure including the specimen of this toxic chemical element, instead of using the platform of OPCW and Security Council for multiplying their unfounded accusations that Russia allegedly breaches its obligations under CWC.


Mr. Chairman,

The disinformation campaign which resembles more the war started by the British authorities against Russia in connection with so-called “Skripal case” is not a secret to anybody. The UK ignores norms of international law and law in general, principles and customs of diplomacy, common sense and even simple politeness. Against the background of meaningful silence by the British competent authorities on the essence of the case as well as abundant declarations and allegations of political nature that were targeted against Russia since the very beginning, there are more and more new versions of what has happened highlighting important discrepancies, claims and blatant disinformation which London does not even try to refute. It is all about sensations. Then those who behave like this count that against the background of numerous unfounded accusations and references to highly esteemed organizations like OPCW that allegedly “completely confirmed the conclusions of the British side about Russian involvement” (which as I would like to stress once again is a complete lie) third countries and public opinion will not try to study themselves peculiarities of chemical analysis and numerous inconsistencies of the voiced allegations. Winston Churchill used to say that there is no public opinion but only published opinion. The British side and their allies have no problems with multiplying their fake allegations in the media.

The British side has so far posed only two questions to us. In our turn, we have posed 47 questions to them. Here they are. We have received partial answers only to two of them. There are no answers to the questions that we posed during the previous meeting of the Council on this issue on 5 April and we have more questions to come. We promised you that we will not let it go.

In order to familiarize you with scientific and factual sides of the matter we will distribute separately statements of Russian representatives at the 59th session of OPCW as well as with chronological list of events composed by our Embassy in London. This statement will also be sent to you later.

The British authorities on the sly are busy with systematic destruction of evidence and proofs. The Skripals’ pets have been killed without any blood specimen taken. Places visited by the Skripals are being protected from public: the bar, the restaurant, the bench, soil in the park, etc. At the same time common people continue to live in Salisbury as if nothing happened. Yulia Skripal is kept in unknown location. There is no consular access to this Russian citizen. I would like to remind that nobody spotted either Yulia or Sergei Skripals since 4 March. And this despite the fact that these two Russian citizens became objects of a crime – an attempt of murder with traits of a terrorist act.

I would like to reiterate once again our principal position – we will not accept the results of any British or international investigations without being admitted to all the materials, including criminal investigation data or full technical laboratory reports, without being granted the right to consular access to Russian citizens as well as which is most important thing without direct participation of Russian experts in all the procedures connected with clarification of what happened in Salisbury on 4 March.

There is only one thing that we do not doubt at this stage. London continues to keep secret critically important information for the establishment of the truth and rejects any transparency on this matter.

One can mention once again the British Embassy in Moscow which has recently communicated the following sensational information which was later repeated by British representatives to the OPCW and the UN:

1. In the course of last 10 years Russia has been producing and accumulating quantities of “Novichok”.

2. Russia conducted tests on how to use nerve agents for assassinations.

3. Starting with 2013 Russian intelligent services were interested in Sergei Skripal.

This is so genial! I applaud you, ladies and gentlemen.

Coming back to the letter by Permanent Representative of the UK to the UN that was distributed today among others to the permanent members of the Security Council. As usual, this document is abundant with lies, unfounded claims and slender, composed with “highly likely”, “may have been”, “suspected”. The United Kingdom took the courage to judge our chemical notification to OPCW as well as discuss the methods of work used by our special services. But this time our British colleagues went even further. They directly blamed President Putin of personal involvement into military chemical program. Without metaphors or links and without using “highly likely”. I was always amused and surprised by very unrealistic beliefs of our British colleagues and not only them in the way the Russian system of power works. London is likely to believe that Russian President’s hobby is to move forward chemical weapons program in his spare time. I am not sure whether in London or in British representation here you realize that in such a way a redline of decency and acceptable behavior is being crossed. I believe we need to thank our President for controlling his emotions very well.

Why on Earth do you need all this?

The answers are blatantly obvious.

This is an attempt to demonize Russia in general and to question its legitimacy at the international arena. I was right to say that incidents in Salisbury and Syrian Douma are interlinked. First of all, because these are two provocations, secondly, because they are both claimed to be linked to Russia.

This dirty anti-Russian provocation is aimed at deepening of the divide between Russia and the EU – a scenario favoured by the UK on the eve of Brexit.

And that is all I can say.

To conclude, Mr. Chairman, let me quote again some classical literature. This time it will be William Shakespeare who wrote in his play “Henry VI” that  «Suspicion always haunts the guilty mind». If so please take the effort to wrap your “suspicions” in some beautiful paper. Otherwise, they seem not convincing. I even feel sorry for you.

We will be impatiently looking forward to the continuation of these thrilling series. In case the British side hesitates to make public without delay of a new information or sensational “discoveries” similar to what I was referring today, we reserve the right to ask to convene such a meeting ourselves.

It is wrong to believe that you will succeed in protecting yourselves by the toxic fake wall of lies and allegations. The story does not end with technical assistance to the OPCW mission. We will continue to press you for the facts.

The whole case is undoubtedly toxic. You managed to stuff it with toxic lies. There is one thing that we see eye to eye with you. There should be accountability in this case. Those responsible for this provocation must be punished.