Russia Pushes Back on U.S. Claims of Chemical Weapons in Syria

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Sept. 2 2013 10:42 AM

Russia Questions U.S. Chemical Weapons Claims in Syria

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (L) and US Secretary of State John Kerry speak at the US Department of State in Washington, DC.

Photo by PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images

On Saturday, President Obama presented his case for intervening in Syria in response to the Assad government’s use of chemical weapons. The Kremlin fired back on Monday, saying that U.S. evidence of a chemical weapon attack was unconvincing.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said there was “nothing concrete” in the information presented to Russia by the U.S. "There are no facts, there is just dialogue about 'what we know for sure,'" Mr. Lavrov said. "And when we ask for more detailed confirmation, they say, 'You know, it's all secret, so we can't show you.' That means such facts aren't there."

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On NBC’s Meet the Press this Sunday, Secretary of State John Kerry said there was evidence of the use of sarin gas in the attack in the suburbs of Damascus, as the Obama administration continues to solicit support domestically, as well as internationally for intervening. But, on Monday, Mr. Lavrov warned, “if someone tries to make gross violations of international law a norm, then we will create chaos.”

Meanwhile, Russia’s Interfax news agency reports, on Sunday, Russia deployed a spy ship to the Mediterranean “to gather current information in the area of the escalating conflict.” Moscow opposes military intervention in Syria, using its role on the U.N. Security Council to divert international pressure away from the Assad regime. Russia is one of the Assad government’s biggest arms suppliers and has permanent a military facility in the country.

Russia’s Foreign Minister also told reporters on Monday that any military intervention by the U.S. would most likely scuttle a second round of negotiations in Geneva looking to broker a political transition in Syria.

Elliot Hannon is a writer in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter.