MOSCOW - Russia will show the UN Security Council evidence it has
received from Syria's government pointing to the use of chemical weapons
by rebels in the Damascus suburbs, Russian news agencies quoted Foreign
Minister Sergei Lavrov as saying on Wednesday.
Lavrov, who has said a report by UN investigators
did not dispel Russia's suspicions that rebels were behind an August 21
poison gas attack, spoke after one of his deputies was given
unspecified evidence by the government while visiting Syria.
"We will present all this in the UN Security Council, of course," Interfax quoted Lavrov as saying.
Earlier on Wednesday, Russia denounced the UN investigators' findings
on the poison gas attack in Damascus as preconceived and tainted by
politics, stepping up its criticism of a report Western nations said
proved President Bashar Assad's forces were responsible.
which has veto power in the Security Council, could cite such doubts
about proof of culpability in opposing future efforts by the United
States, Britain and France to punish Syria for any violations of a deal
to abandon chemical weapons.
"We are disappointed, to put it
mildly, about the approach taken by the UN secretariat and the UN
inspectors, who prepared the report selectively and incompletely,"
Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told the state-run Russian news
agency RIA in Damascus.
"Without receiving a full picture of what
is happening here, it is impossible to call the nature of the
conclusions reached by the UN experts ... anything but politicized,
preconceived and one-sided," said Ryabkov, who met Syrian Foreign
Minister Walid al-Moualem late on Tuesday and Assad on Wednesday.
The report issued on Monday confirmed the nerve agent sarin was used in the
attack but did not assign blame. Britain, France and the United States
said it confirmed Syria's government, not rebels as Russia has
suggested, was behind it.
Lavrov said on Tuesday the
investigation was incomplete without examination of evidence from other
sources and that suspicions of chemical use after August 21 should also be investigated.
Ryabkov said Syrian authorities had given him alleged evidence of chemical weapons use by Assad's opponents.
stark disagreement over blame for the attack may complicate discussions
among Security Council members - Russia, China, the United states,
Britain and France - over a Western-drafted resolution to eliminate
Syria's chemical weapons.
"We are surprised by Russia's attitude
because they are calling into question not the report, but the
objectivity of the inspectors," French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius
said in Paris on Wednesday.
"I don't think anybody can call into
question inspectors that have been appointed by the UN," said Fabius,
who met Lavrov in Moscow on Tuesday and said several aspects of the UN
report clearly pointed to Syrian government involvement.Meeting Assad
has been Assad's most powerful backer during the conflict that has
killed more than 100,000 people since 2011, delivering weapons and -
with China - blocking Western efforts to use the Security Council's
clout to pressure his government.
Moscow argues that the danger
emanates from rebels, many of whom harbor militant Islamist ambitions
for Syria that could ultimately pose a threat both to Russia, which is
fighting against Islamist militants on its southern fringe, and the
In his meeting with Ryabkov, Assad voiced appreciation "for
Russia's stances in support of Syria in the face of the vicious attack
and ... terrorism which is backed by Western, regional and Arab forces",
Syrian state news agency SANA said.
The draft resolution is intended to support a US-Russian deal reached on Saturday
calling for Syria to account for its chemical weapons within a week and
for their destruction by mid-2014. The accord was based on a Russian
proposal accepted by Assad.
The deal halted efforts by US
President Barack Obama to win Congressional approval for military action
to punish Assad for the gas attack, which the United States says killed
more than 1,400 people in rebel-held areas.
US Secretary of State John Kerry called on Tuesday for a resolution with the strength to force compliance from Assad.
said the current US-British-French draft was written so that its
provisions were under Chapter 7 of the UN charter, which covers Security
Council authority to enforce its decisions with measures such as
sanctions or force.
But Russia has made clear it believes authorization
of the use of force would require a second resolution to be introduced
if the Syrian government or its opponents are found to have violated the
country's commitments on chemical weapons.