Churkin: Russia Is Not Going to Make Excuses for Actions in Syria

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Translated by Ollie Richardson for Fort Russ

11th february, 2016


Russia is not going to make excuses for their actions in Syria as it operates openly and in the framework of international law.

This was declared on Wednesday to journalists by the permanent representative of the Russian Federation to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, on the results of the closed-door meeting of the Security Council. The meeting was convened by Spain and New Zealand to discuss the situation in Aleppo, where the Syrian army, with the support of the Russian Federation, is carrying out operations against the militants.

“We are not going to make excuses for our actions. We are acting very openly. Our Ministry of Defense is conducting daily briefings, we are present in Syria for legitimate reasons – at the invitation of the Syrian government, unlike the so-called coalition, led by the United States that operates outside of international law”, – the diplomat said.

He drew attention to the fact that the “coalition” does not state “what they are doing exactly in Syria and Iraq”, what is the purpose of the strikes and what are the results of their actions. “They also refuse to cooperate with us against terrorists”, – said the permanent representative of the Russian Federation.

The idea of a ceasefire is being discussed with the United States

Churkin confirmed that Russia, on February 11th, at a meeting of the International support group in Munich, will present their suggestions about the settlement of the conflict, including the establishment of a ceasefire.

He did not disclose what Moscow’s proposals would be, but noted that these issues were being discussed with Washington bilaterally.

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“We are negotiating with the United States, including – if possible – a ceasefire and humanitarian issues,” the diplomat said. He also said that Russia maintains a dialogue with humanitarian organizations, including the world food programme.

Weekly briefing on Yemen

Churkin expressed regret that some security Council members “crossed the line” and politicized the humanitarian situation in Syria. It was reported that at a closed meeting with  the permanent representative of Spain, Roman Marchesi, he promised to continue to convene discussions on humanitarian issues. “We can’t assume these are politically destructive tactics,” said the diplomat.

According to him, Russia is ready to support the “heightened interest” of the Security Council in humanitarian topics, and in this regard, invites them “to hold a weekly meeting on the humanitarian situation in Yemen until a political decision is made”. In a brief conversation with the TASS, Russia’s permanent representative said the first such meeting could take place as early as next week.

According to him, Moscow intends to raise the issue once again about the consequences of NATO’s bombing of Libya in 2011 that led to the deaths of dozens of civilians. The Diplomat recalled that the previous UN High Commissioner for human rights, Navanethem Pillay, insisted on compensation for the victims, but this did not happen.

Expanding the opposition’s delegation

The immediate cessation of bombardments carried out by the Syrian army and aircraft of the Russia was one of the preconditions made by the delegation based in Riyadh, who opposed the resumption of negotiations with Damascus, which was interrupted a few days ago.

However, Russia’s permanent representative once again pointed out that one of the problems lies in the fact that the opposition delegation is not sufficiently representative and does not include politicians who last year held a series of meetings in Moscow and Cairo, as well as representatives of the Syrian Kurds. According to him, without them, discussing the Syrian settlement “makes no sense”.

“We believe that, in preparation for the resumption of negotiations, which I hope will happen on 25th February, additional work is required so that the opposition delegation is more representative,” – said Churkin. According to him, “there must be not only people from Riyadh”. Russia’s permanent representative also drew attention to the incomplete project of the list of terrorist groups, which was entrusted to Jordan. Without this, he explained, it is impossible to understand with whom to fight with in Syria, and engage in dialogue.

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