Russia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Vassily Nebenzia’s full speech at the UN Security Council on April 14, 2018, after the USA, UK and France carried out unilateral strikes against Syria.
Text and subtitles:


[…] Thank you, M. President.

Russia called for this urgent meeting of the Security Council to discuss the aggressive actions of the United States and their allies against Syria. This is the 5th meeting on this topic just this week. The President of the Russian Federation, [Vladimir] Putin, made a special statement today and I will quote him.

“On April 14, the United States, supported by its allies, launched an airstrike against military and civilian targets in the Syrian Arab Republic. An act of aggression against a sovereign state that is on the frontline in the fight against terrorism was committed without a mandate from the UN Security Council and in violation of the UN Charter and norms and principles of international law.

Just as one year ago, when the Shayrat Airbase in Syria came under attack, the US used as a pretext a staged chemical attack against civilians, this time in Douma, a Damascus suburb. Having visited the site of the would-be chemical attack, Russian military experts did not find any traces of chlorine or any other toxic agent. Not a single local resident was able to confirm that a chemical attack had actually taken place.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons dispatched its experts to Syria in order to investigate all the circumstances. However, in a sign of cynical disdain, a group of Western countries decided to take military action without waiting for the results of the investigation.

Russia condemns in the strongest possible terms the attack against Syria, where Russian military personnel are assisting the legitimate government in its counterterrorism efforts.

Through its actions, the US makes the already catastrophic humanitarian situation in Syria even worse and brings suffering to civilians. In fact, the US panders to the terrorists who have been tormenting the Syrian people for seven years, leading to a wave of refugees fleeing this country and the region.

The current escalation around Syria is destructive for the entire system of international relations. History will set things right, and Washington already bears the heavy responsibility for the bloody outrage in Yugoslavia, Iraq and Libya.”

Russia is doing everything possible to convince the United States and its allies to refrain from their military plans which could lead to a new spiral of violence in Syria and destabilize the Middle East.

The Secretary-General of the U.N., at the Security Council meetings that we convened yesterday and today, expressed his concerns about the way events have developed. However, Washington, London and Paris preferred to disregard calls to common sense. The United States and its allies continue to demonstrate blatant disregard for international law. As permanent members of the Security Council, they should be especially firm in protecting the provisions of the U.N. Charter.

It was shameful to hear how, in justifying the aggression, an article of the U.S. Constitution was mentioned. We have the greatest respect to the right of each State to respect their own founding law. However, it is time for Washington to learn that the international code of behavior regarding the use of force is regulated by the United Nations Charter. It is interesting how the people of Great Britain and France, what they will think when they find out their government is taking part in an illegal military venture by referring to the American Constitution.

You’re constantly tempted by colonialism and neocolonialism. You have nothing but disdain for the U.N. Charter and the Security Council, which you are unjustifiably trying to use for your own aims. There is no significant work you are doing in the Security Council. You do not consult us and you mendaciously claim otherwise. You undermine the authority of the Security Council.

As a pretext for aggression, you mentioned the alleged use of chemical weapons in the Syrian city of Douma. Representatives of Russia, after an inspection by our experts, unequivocally stated that no such incident took place. Furthermore, we found people who took part in this staging. In fact, the organizers of that staging were foreign intelligence services. After this event, the Syrian authorities immediately invited experts. They conducted a field mission to Douma to establish the facts. Quickly, these formalities were resolved and guarantees of security were provided. At the time of the strikes, experts were already in Syria and getting ready to begin their work.

I want to recall to the members of the Security Council and to everyone else, that on the 10th of April, when our draft resolution on the secure work of the special mission of the OPCW was blocked, we were assured that such a document was not necessary. We were told that the mission, without any additional efforts by the Security Council, will go visit the site and conduct an investigation of the alleged Douma chemical incident. Now it is clear we were absolutely right.

Yesterday, some of our colleagues – some of them naively, some of them cynically – told us the reason of the situation, supposedly a lack of an independent investigative mechanism. The aggression has shown that that is not the issue at all, as we stated. During last year’s attack against the Shayrat airbase, there was the Joint Investigation Mechanism (JIM) of the U.N. and OPCW. That did not prevent the United States from conducting a missile strike. Afterwards, in fact, the JIM made sure that its conclusions coincided with the reasons for the American strike.

We have said many times that you do not need any investigation. You did not need them then and you do not need them today. The organizers of the aggression did not even wait for the elementary establishment of facts by an international organization which is authorized to do that. They supposedly determine everything for themselves and determine who was guilty.

Given that they themselves, with the fighters that were under their control, disseminated all kinds of rumors using social media. They confirmed this through so-called secret intelligence. Mythical secret intelligence. Ladies and gentlemen, the White Helmets have once again fallen. We were already used to the fact that when they conduct their doubtful geopolitical policies, the countries that are aggressors already blame the ‘Assad regime’. Lately, they tend to shift responsibility on Russia, which according to their interpretation cannot control the dictator. All of this is based on a scheme that has been well tried. It is a provocation, mendacious accusations, a verdict, and punishment. Is this how you want international affairs to be conducted now? This is hooliganism in international relations, and not minor hooliganism, given that we are talking about major nuclear powers.

Several strikes were conducted against the scientific research centers in Barza and Jamaraya. Recently, two inspections by the OPCW were conducted with unlimited access to all facilities. Experts did not find any traces of activity that would contravene the chemical weapons convention. 

The scientific facilities in Syria are used only for peaceful activity aimed at enhancing the effectiveness of economic activity in Syria. You want Syria to have no economy at all? You want to throw this country back into the stone age? Just a few years ago this country was one of the most developed in the Middle East. You want to finish off what your sanctions have not achieved yet?

At the same time, you are shedding crocodile tears about the suffering of ordinary Syrians. Ordinary Syrians are tired of war and happy that their legitimate authority has freed their territory. You are not interested in their suffering. Your aggressive actions contribute to worsening the humanitarian situation, which you are so worried about according to your statements.

In 24 hours, you could stop the conflict in Syria. For this, Washington, London, and Paris only have to give orders to their hand-picked terrorists to stop their fighting against the legitimate authorities and against their own people.

The strikes were conducted against Syrian military airfields, which are being used in the course of an operation against terrorist organizations. It is quite an original contribution to the combat against international terrorism, which, as Washington keeps repeating, is the only goal of its military presence in Syria. We have serious doubts about that. It seems that it is clear that those in the West who cover themselves with humanitarian rhetoric in trying to justify their action in Syria supposedly to defeat the jihadists, are actually aiming at dismembering the country. This is confirmed by the fact that the United States have refused to take part in rebuilding the areas of Syria that have been freed from the jihadists.

Lastly, your aggression is a major strike and threat against the possibility of continuing the political process under the U.N. auspices, which in spite of objective difficulties, was moving forward at varying speeds. So what were your constant references to the Geneva process worth if yourselves are destroying that process with your own actions?

We call on the United States and its allies to immediately end the aggressive actions against Syria and to refrain from them in the future.

We are putting forward for your attention a brief draft resolution on which we will demand a vote at the end of this meeting. We would like to address the members of the Security Council. Today is not the time to shirk your responsibilities. The world is looking at you.Take a principled stand.

Thank you.