Russia and the West disagree about Syria chemical attack investigations

A conflict has arisen between Russia and western countries concerning the plans to give the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) the authority to identify who is to blame for the chemical attacks. Russia’s representatives say that these plans contravene the Chemical Weapons Convention.

At a conference of OPCW participant countries on Monday, November 19, Russian permanent representative to the OPCW Alexander Shulgin said that the organization’s mandate does not imply an attributive function. Instead, Shulgin proposed that a special group of experts be established to decide whether the organization should be given such an attributive mechanism.

In response, the US and UK representatives accused Moscow of trying to interfere with the fight against the use of chemical weapons. US Permanent Representative Kenneth Ward said that “Russia is trying to bury the truth” in order to conceal the fact that the Damascus government is to blame for most of the gas attacks in Syria.

Furthermore, Russia has proposed amendments to the OPCW draft budget for 2019, which Ward believes are intended to deprive the organization’s attributive mechanism of funding.

Voting on the budget for next year is scheduled to take place on Tuesday, November 20.

Despite opposition from Russia and its allies, a resolution was adopted at an emergency OPCW session which authorizes the OPCW to state who is to blame for chemical attacks. Until 2017, this mandate was held by a group of UN experts and the OPCW, but this mandate was not extended due to Russia using a veto during UN Security Council voting.

  Russia, Syria, West, OPCW, US