Russia Takes Skripal Poisoning Case Before UN Security Council
RFE/RL April 05, 2018
Russia takes its case before the UN Security Council on April 5, calling for an international investigation into the poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain one day after losing a bid to be part of a joint investigation by the global chemical weapons watchdog.
London has said it is "highly likely" Moscow was behind the March 4 attack with a military-grade nerve agent on Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, but Russia has insisted it is innocent and is taking its case before world bodies.
Both sides have already suspended high-level contacts, and more than two dozen Western countries have joined Britain in expelling over 150 diplomats in retaliation for the poisonings, with Russia responding in kind.
British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson welcomed Russia's defeat April 4 in its bid to involved in a joint investigation of the incident with Britain, which was turned down on a 15-6 vote at a meeting of the decision-making body of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
"Russia has had one goal in mind since the attempted murders on U.K. soil through the use of a military-grade chemical weapon -- to obscure the truth and confuse the public," Johnson said in a statement.
"The international community has yet again seen through these tactics and robustly defeated Russia's attempts today to derail the proper international process."
But Russia's ambassador to the organization, Aleksandr Shulgin, said the vote failed to reach a "qualified majority" because only 21 of the executive body's 41 members voted on the Russian proposal.
Of the 38 members present for the vote, 17 abstained. Russia was joined by China, Azerbaijan, Sudan, Algeria, and Iran in voting for its proposal.
"A qualified majority was needed," Shulgin said, asserting that "more than half" of the chemical organization members -- including those who abstained -- had doubts about Britain's allegations and "refused to associate themselves with the West's point of view."
Hours before the UN Security Council meeting in New York, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on April 5 that the West cannot ignore Moscow's questions over the poisonings, as he called for a "substantial and responsible" probe into the case.
Lavrov also told a security conference in Moscow on April 5 that the incident was "orchestrated" to justify the expulsion of Russian diplomats from countries across the world.
Earlier in the day, buses believed to be carrying expelled American diplomats and their families departed from the U.S. Embassy in Moscow.
Russia has ordered 60 U.S. diplomats to leave the country in retaliation for the United States expelling the same number of Russians.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley on April 4 said the attack on the Skripals was part of a "dangerous trend" of increasing chemical weapons use around the world.
She accused Russia of making the world "a far more dangerous place" by not only allegedly poisoning the Skripals but by shielding Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from sanctions at the UN over his alleged use of chemical weapons in his nation's seven-year civil war.
Haley made her remarks on the one-year anniversary of a major chemical attack in Syria in the town of Khan Sheikhun, where nearly 100 people were killed by the nerve agent sarin.
An attempt by the UN Security Council to censure Syria over the attack was blocked repeatedly by Russia last year, which also prevented the council from renewing the mandate of a UN panel set up to investigate such chemical attacks in Syria.
"There should be no more victims of chemical weapons attacks, whether they take place in the war zone of Syria or in an English country town," said Britain's UN ambassador, Karen Pierce, who once against blamed Russia for the Skripal poisonings in Salisbury, England.
Russian President Vladimir Putin on April 4 retracted previous calls by his spokesman for an apology from the West over the incident.
"We are just expecting reason to prevail so that international relations don't sustain damage like what we have seen recently," he said after a summit in Ankara, Turkey.
"This not only concerns the assassination attempt on Skripal, but also all other aspects of international relations," he said.
"We need to work within the framework of sound political processes, founded on fundamental norms of international law, and this will make the world a more stable and predictable place," Putin said.
With reporting by AP, AFP, and Reuters
Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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