The United States rejects a Russian-drafted UNSC resolution aimed at establishing an investigative mechanism into all allegations of chemical attacks in Syria, with both sides discrediting each other’s data on the issue.
Russia has supported the internationally recognised government of Syria since the beginning of the Syrian conflict in 2011: politically, with military aid, and since 30 September 2015 also through direct military involvement. The latter marked the first time since the end of the Cold War that Russia entered an armed conflict outside the borders of the former Soviet Union.
Since October 2011, Russia, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, repeatedly vetoed Western-sponsored draft resolutions in the UN Security Council that demanded the resignation of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and opened the possibility of U.N. sanctions against his government.
On 11 June 2013, President Vladimir Putin acknowledged that President Assad's not undertaking any "reform" had led to the current situation in Syria. He stated on Russian state media that: "Syria as a country was rife for some kind of change. And the government of Syria should have felt that in due time and should have undertaken some reform. Had they done that, what we're seeing in Syria today would have never happened."
On 26 June 2013, the Deputy Russian Foreign Minister said that the small Russian naval base at Tartus has been evacuated. Mikhail Bogdanov stated that: "Presently, the Russian Defense Ministry has not a single person stationed in Syria. The base does not have any strategic military importance".
On 9 September 2013, responding to U.S. threats of strikes against Syria in response to use of chemical weapons in Syria, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov issued a proposal intended to avert a U.S. attack, with provisions including Syria's placing its chemical weapons under international control and their subsequent destruction.
On 12 September 2013, The New York Times published an op-ed by Vladimir Putin urging the United States to avoid unilateral military action and work with international cooperation in support of a negotiated solution to the Syrian conflict.
"We want to rise above the differences and propose the creation of a new international investigative body... based on the impeccable and irrefutable data obtained in a transparent and credible way,” said Russia’s permanent representative to the UN Vasily Nebenzia during a UN Security Council meeting held on Tuesday.
The UNSC meeting was called by Moscow to discuss the crisis in Syria, especially recent accusations against Damascus over an alleged chemical attack.
The Russian proposal was rejected by the US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, who accused Russia of attempting to protect Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
"When Russia doesn’t like the facts, they try and distract the conversation. That’s because the facts come back over and over again to the truth Russia wants to hide – that the Assad regime continues to use chemical weapons against its own people,” she said.
“The United States and the international community are not going to be fooled. We remain steadfast in pursuing accountability for those who use chemical weapons,” she added.
The mandate of the Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) of the UN and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) expired in November after several of failed attempts by the UNSC to extend its authority.
Nebenzia noted the probes collapsed because they were full of “systemic deficiencies” and had become a mechanism for political manipulation.
After the US rejected Moscow’s initiative, Nebenzia added that the move showed the establishment of a professional and independent investigative mechanism is the last thing Washington wants.
"The fact that our resolution was outright dismissed says volumes. This once again reveals the truth, that we sadly already know. The United States of America does not need an independent, professional mechanism. Not only that you reveal the truth, but you show your true colors in front of the international community,” the Russian envoy to the UN added.
Our assessment is that the United States and its allies have repeatedly accused Syrian government forces of carrying out chemical attacks in civilian areas without providing any substantial evidence. We believe that its important to avoid the similar situations in Libya & Iraq where US had intervened citing the storage of use of chemical weapons. What is extremely important is to bring stability in country.