Russia says Western powers have attempted to take advantage of a United Nations probe into the recent use of chemical weapons by foreign - backed militants in Syria to topple President Bashar al - Assad.
Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said in an online comment on Monday, “Attempts to delay the UN - led investigation of one of the most pressing issues into an element of additional pressure for changing the regime in the country[Syria] are unacceptable. ” In a separate letter to the UN on the same day, the Russian ministry also accused the West of muscling UN Secretary General Ban Ki - moon into broadening the field of investigation into the use of chemical arms in Syria.
“Ban Ki - moon, under pressure from Western members of the Council, took the unjustified step of broadening the mandate of the mission, trying to set as its task the investigation of all other supposed cases of chemical weapons use in Syria, ” the ministry said.
Russia has voiced support for the Syrian government’s call for an independent inquiry into the chemical attack conducted by militants in the northwestern province of Aleppo on March 19. However, Western members of the UN Security Council, including France and the UK, demand claims of the Syrian opposition also be investigated. Syria’s opposition bloc says there have been two chemical weapons attacks, one in Aleppo and another in the capital, Damascus. Moscow further described Ban’s approach to the issue as “counterproductive, ” saying there is no information regarding any other incidents of the use of chemical weapons in Syria. Russia also said the selection of an investigation team must be “apolitical and unprejudiced, ” insisting that Russian and Chinese experts must be included in the team. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said in separate remarks on Twitter that the team “must without fail include representatives of the five permanent UN Security Council members, including Russian and Chinese chemical specialists. ” On March 21, Ban announced that the UN would launch an independent investigation into the chemical attack in Syria, which reportedly killed over two dozen people and injured many others in Khan al - Assal village.