Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Statement by First Deputy Permanent Representative Dmitry Polyanskiy at UNSC briefing on the Syrian chemical file


Russia, just like a number of other UNSC members, has repeatedly said that considering the Syrian chemical file at the Security Council once every three months is more than enough. There has been no relevant developments on the ground for a long time. Today’s briefing by Deputy High Representative Ebo but proves this point.

On our agenda today is yet another copy-pasted monthly report by OPCW Director General Fernando Arias. Among the few substantive changes, it reflects only the convening of the 26th round of consultations between the Syrian authorities and the OPCW's Declaration Assessment Team (DAT). Moreover, on February 27, the OPCW Technical Secretariat notified the Syrian leadership that the three outstanding issues on Syria's initial declaration had been resolved. Damascus has provided all necessary cooperation to inspections held by OPCW representatives. Constructive interaction continues. We believe that our Syrian colleagues will brief us about that in detail today. However, we have no doubt that these objective facts will not in the slightest influence the tone of today's statements by Western delegations, who request these meetings for the sole purpose of making their standard anti-Syrian points.

The OPCW Technical Secretariat continues to "rubber stamp" politically biased "pseudo-analytics" under Western orders. This clearly showed in the report of the Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) on the incident at the Yarmouk camp on the outskirts of Damascus (October 22, 2017) that was published last week, as well as the report of the so-called "Investigation and Identification Team" (IIT) on the incident in the village of Marea (September 1, 2015). Both documents not only confirmed the bias of the leadership of the OPCW Technical Secretariat, but also clearly demonstrated the ineffectiveness of its work.

With regard to the FFM report, the facts and the timeline of events speak for themselves. The first time the Mission visited the site of the Yarmouk incident was in December 2017. Samples that the FFM took during its subsequent visits to the area were not transferred to the OPCW laboratory until January 2020. And it was not until 2021 that the Technical Secretariat received the results of their lab analysis. Speaking of the final report of the FFM, States-Parties to the CWC got hold of it only three years later, in February 2024.

This is despite the fact that, according to the provisions of the CWC, the final report on the investigation of cases of alleged use of chemical weapons, including the results of sample analysis, must be submitted to the CWC States-Parties no later than 30 days after the on-site work is completed. We regret that we have to remind the OPCW Technical Secretariat of the fundamental principles of its work.

As for the report by the illegitimate IIT, we are not going to dwell on its contents. The conclusions on the responsibility of ISIL for the incident in Marea were not breaking news to anyone. Back in 2016, the UN-OPCW Joint Mechanism for the investigation of the use of chemical weapons in Syria, which looked into similar incidents in this settlement, reached the same conclusion regarding the act of chemical terrorism of August 21, 2015.

While making this report, the IIT once again turned to unacceptable working methods that run counter to the CWC-stipulated principles as regards investigating alleged use of chemical weapons, ensuring the chain of custody, working with witnesses, visiting the incident site and so on. However, this no longer comes as a surprise. The Western countries who had "pushed through" the establishment of the IIT in violation of the fundamental principles of the CWC were clearly not interested in an objective, impartial and high-quality work of this structure. The only purpose of the IIT is to hold Syria responsible at any cost for episodes of CW use despite the absence of any convincing evidence whatsoever.

In this context, we should like to reiterate the principled position of the Russian Federation. We do not consider the IIT to be legitimate. For that reason, we have no intention to either cooperate with it or take note of its findings. The Syrian leadership does not have any such obligations either.

As for the use of chemical weapons by terrorists, let us not forget a simple fact. Back in 2016, the Western “troika” blocked all attempts by Russia and China to expand the mandate of the joint UN-OPCW mechanism to the ISIL-controlled territory of Iraq, where according to UNITAD reports chemical weapons (including mustard gas), were being produced, and preparations for their use were taking place. Of course, the task of demonizing the Syrian leadership is a much higher priority for the United States and its allies than countering the risks of WMD use by terrorist groups.


The facts I have mentioned are but few of the cases of utter politicization of the activities of OPCW. This organization has long ago become a platform for Western countries to promote their narrow self-interest, and its Technical Secretariat turned into an obedient tool to serve them. Arbitrariness is no longer a surprise to anyone. During the previous UNSC meeting on the Syrian chemical file in December 2023, we dwelt in detail on the recommendations adopted during the 28th session of the CWC States-Parties Conference in The Hague to impose collective measures against Damascus in order to prevent the supply of dual-use chemicals, equipment and technologies to Syria. This step contradicts both the CWC and the UN Charter, not to mention the risks it carries in terms of aggravating the already dire humanitarian situation in Syria. But do the US and its allies think about this? A rhetorical question. They care for "rules-based order" much more than they do for international law.

We do not doubt that today's meeting will be nothing more than another opportunity for Western countries to exercise their anti-Syrian rhetoric, where everyone will read their well-learned roles. However, the discussion of the Syrian chemical file already begins to resemble a "soap opera", where showrunners are trying (though unsuccessfully) to maintain the audience's long-lost interest with far-fetched and unnatural plot twists. We should not be surprised if, in order to keep this story afloat, we hear today yet another round of anti-Russian innuendo and absurd accusations. This is part of the genre that Washington and its satellites have invented and work hard to promote.

We will not be playing along. Given the tasks that this Council has to address, meetings such as this one are an irrational waste of time and resource, especially against the unwillingness of our Western colleagues to discuss the topic of Israel’s crimes against the civilian population of Gaza, which is inconvenient for their Middle Eastern ally. We trust that this meeting will make the delegations who assumed their duty in the Security Council in 2024 to draw the right conclusions on this issue. We have something to work on together instead of holding meaningless events from someone else’s playbook.

Thank you.

Video of the statement