Statement by the Permanent Representative of Russia to the OPCW A.Shulgin


Ladies and gentlemen,

Today we invited you here to present the Russian position in relation to the ongoing insinuations by the UK about the chemical weapons’ incidents in Salisbury and Amesbury.

On 4 September 2018 the OPCW Technical Secretariat issued a press release and a summary of the report on the results of the so-called technical assistance provided to the British side in connection with the incident in Amesbury. On the next day a confidential and full version of this report was made available to the States Parties. As declared, the results of the analysis confirmed that it was a nerve agent and that the same agent – that’s its chemical composition - corresponds to the substance that had appeared in the so-called "Scripal’s Case". Such a technical conclusion did not prevent the UK Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Jeremy Hunt from stating on the same day that, quote: “Report by the OPCW confirms the UK’s findings – the nerve agent used in Amesbury poisoning was Novichok. Russian recklessness is appalling and irresponsible…”

Speaking on 5 September 2018 in the Parliament of the UK, the Prime Minister Theresa May presented the results of a national investigation that allegedly point to the involvement of the GRU agents in Salisbury and Amesbury incidents. Once again, absurd arguments were voiced about Russia's involvement: allegedly Russia alone has the means to produce the Novichok; it covers up the stockpiles of this chemical; it’s only Russia that has a motive for neutralizing the former spy Sergei Skripal. The statement is finalized with a thoughtful conclusion that this act is sanctioned at a high political level, that this is supposedly one of the examples of Russia's aggressive activity on the world stage in a series of other events, in particular the annexation of the Crimea and the invasion of the Donbas.

I will begin with a refutation of all these absurd arguments. There has been a lot of information in the open sources indicating that many western countries – above all the United States and the United Kingdom – have been working with nerve agents of a new generation. And it was there – in the mentioned countries - where the general term “Novichok” for all these chemicals was put into circulation. The Russian side has submitted a voluminous 300-page compilation of materials to the OPCW Scientific Advisory Board, which we also requested to circulate as our national document among all the States Parties to the Convention. There are several of well-known facts: back in 1998, the Americans included a mass spectrum of a substance, which they call "Novichok" in the national database – CAS. At the 57th Meeting of the OPCW Executive Council we also showed documents confirming that the US patented the CW’s munitions, which were supposed to be filled with a nerve agent of the "Novichok" class.

Here is a request from the US patent agency: the Americans wanted this invention of Mr. Rubin to be also registered in the Russian patent bodies.

The President of the Czech Republic Milos Zeman has also confirmed that in the Czech laboratory in Brno in 2017 the research was conducted with a new generation of nerve agents, referred to in the West as the "Novichok".

In an interview with “Deutsche Welle”, the former UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson admitted that there was the Novichok agent in the British laboratory of Porton Down.

And a very recent example: the journalists of the well-known Dutch newspaper “NRC Handelsblat” have ascertained that the substances of the "Novichok" family were not a secret, they were synthesized in many places. In particular, such works were conducted at the Dutch research center called “TNO, Defence, Security and Safety in Rijswijk. So this is not a tenable argument that there are only the Soviet Union and Russia where this substance could have originated from.

Another message of the British - they say, only the Russians had a motive to poison the former spy Scripal. Even the zealous Western critics of the President Vladimir Putin note that he is a soberly thinking politician. Could it be that on the eve of the World Cup and especially shortly before the presidential elections the Russian authorities would have done something like this, given the huge political costs? The answer is obvious: Russia did not need it.

Our opponents claim that the motive for the crime is the elimination of spies by Russia abroad. They say, this is a state sponsored policy to eradicate defectors. This was allegedly claimed by President Vladimir Putin. Let someone give us at least one statement like this. This is an outright lie.

We have a lot of questions concerning the mysterious deaths of Russian citizens living in the UK. This includes, in particular, the poisoning of former FSB officer Mr.A.Litvinenko, the death of Russian businessmen Mr.B.Patarkatsishvili and Mr.A.Perepilichny, the mysterious "suicide" of Mr.B.Berezovsky and the strangulation of his business partner Mr.N.Glushkov. All these people died tragically, for some reason, exactly on the British soil under very unclear circumstances. Even at that time, there were still attempts to directly or indirectly blame it on Russia. As in the “Scripals case” these accusations were based on speculations and newspaper hoax. The investigation of all these cases was conducted in an extremely non-transparent way. It did not allow to establish what really happened.

Meanwhile, this summer the daughter of Boris Berezovsky – Elizaveta made an important statement: she does not believe in the official British version of the suicide of her father. She is convinced that he was killed. She hired the well-known German criminalist Berdt Brinkmann who also disproved the findings of the British police. Shortly before his death, Mr.B.Berezovsky wrote a letter to Mr.Putin. He asked the President for pardon and expressed the willingness to return to Russia. Perhaps, someone opposed his return to his homeland?

As for the Salisbury and Amesbury incidents, the UK authorities provided photographs of two people, as they say – GRU agents. They allegedly came to Salisbury and put poisonous gelatinous substance on the handle of the Scripals’ front door. After that – for some reason – they left it in a charity bin where it was found by Ms. Dawn Sturgess. The woman received a deadly poisoning dose. This British scenario has plenty of inconsistencies and gaps.

First, the so-called GRU super-agents knowing that on almost every street corner you can find CCTV cameras deliberately exposed themselves for video-footage.

There are some other flaws in the British position. In particular:

- no data was provided either to us or to the public by British side concerning passport numbers, fingerprints, dates of birth of Mr. A.Petrov and Mr. R.Boshirov, who applied for British visa as well as information about their previous trips to the UK and other EU countries;

- any links to the GRU, and even more – to the political leadership of Russia, seem to be total nonsense. This is again the speculation, but not facts. Actually, as an argument Teresa May stated, the GRU is characterized by high discipline, and thus it is clear the two individuals could not operate on their own. That's all kind of pervert logic. Neither OPCW could say anything about the origin of the "Novichok", nor the Brits were able to present any other evidence rather than photos and names of suspected persons.

We understand the motives for the refusal of the British to request extradition of these individuals, but why they do not request legal assistance from the Russian Federation? They claim that they "do not intend to cooperate with the killers". Nevertheless, a sensible part of the public will have a question: how then to determine the truth? Perhaps there is an easier explanation for everything. One of the possible reasons why the UK refuses to follow a legal path is that its evidence is not that valid.

Let me remind you that according to its Art. IX, the CWC stipulates a clear algorithm of actions to clarify the controversial situations.  In particular CWC requires the States-Parties should conduct bilateral consultations on any controversial issue. Acting in the legal field of the Convention, the British should have sent a request to us, and we, in turn, within 10 days to give them an answer.

However, the UK rejected our offer of cooperation, considering it below its dignity.

Our Embassy in London sent more than 60 Notes Verbales to the Foreign Office with a request for a consular access to Sergei and Yulia Skripals. However all our attempts were turned down. Thus London violated the bilateral consular convention of 1968 and the European Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters of 1959. All this is done by the United Kingdom, a state positioning itself as the beacon of international law.

Without any intension to follow the provisions of the Chemical Weapons Convention the UK actually invented a new formula: a technical assistance in the identification of scheduled or unscheduled chemicals under the paragraph 38 e) of Article VIII.

To begin with, “technical assistance” in the identification of a chemical is needed for those countries that have neither experts, nor laboratories, experience nor necessary equipment. The British side has all this in abundance. Especially since everything was determined in advance: this was a non-scheduled nerve agent. The Technical Secretariat was summoned only to confirm its own conclusions.

At the same time, the experts of the Technical Secretariat for some reason were taken to the morgue so that they could participate in taking biomedical samples from the deceased Dawn Sturgess. What does “technical assistance” mean in this context? This is a direct involvement of the Technical Secretariat in the national investigation. London just needs the "seal" of the OPCW to say that the specialized international organization has empowered the UK conclusions with its authority. But at the same time, as I said before, the Technical Secretariat has neither confirmed the fact that this substance is the so-called "Novichok", nor the country of origin. That is all fiction and propaganda of the British politicians.

The Russian Federation is an honest and responsible participant of the CWC. Back in 1992, all CW’s works were stopped in accordance with a special Presidential Decree. After the entry into force of the CWC, the Russian Federation has fully and thoroughly complied with all the obligations under this international treaty. Hundreds of OPCW inspectors participated in monitoring activities for many years. In 2017 we completed our chemical disarmament ahead of schedule, which was certified by our Organization. I would like to stress once again: Russia has fulfilled its obligations in full, we have nothing to hide. We completely destroyed all chemical weapons stockpiles.

However, there is still one country - the United States of America - that is not in a hurry with chemical disarmament. Surprising as it is, Americans justify themselves by saying that they lack necessary funding. Whereas Russia managed to disarm completely, the United States still has a large chemical arsenal. Why do Americans keep silent about this? They should also shed light on what kind of research and development they continue to conduct. After all, such information appears regularly. This is especially relevant since a number of former Soviet chemists with chemical weapons expertise, now reside in the United States.