Trust Between Moscow, Washington Nearly Lost

When asked if there was a real threat of a direct military conflict between Russian and American forces over the missile strikes on Syria by the US and its allies, the Russian foreign minister replied that was not very close
Sergey LavrovSergey Lavrov

Russia is losing the last remnants of trust with its US partners after unsubstantiated claims of a Syrian chemical attack and the Skripal poisoning case, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told the BBC, adding that some trust still remains.

BBC HARDtalk’s host Stephen Sackur started his interview with Lavrov by stating, “You say there’s no trust, you mean, zero trust, now between Russia and the US…” But the foreign minister corrected the journalist, saying that, “I said we’re losing the last remnants of trust, which is not yet zero.”

Lavrov said the current state of relations between Russia and the West is “worse” than during the Cold War. Back then, “there were channels of communication and there was no obsession with Russophobia,” but now the number of such channels has significantly decreased, he explained.

Still, the “de-conflicting channel was engaged all the time” between the Russian and the US militaries, Lavrov added, RT reported.

When asked if there was a real threat of a direct military conflict between Russian and American forces over the missile strikes on Syria by the US and its allies, the Russian foreign minister replied, “Well, I don’t think that was very close.”

On Friday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said “the Cold War is back” and that there were no safeguards and mechanisms to manage the risks that had existed in the past.

However, the top Russian diplomat noted that Russia and the United States were not close to a direct military confrontation because of the recent attack on Syria.

On April 14, the United States, the UK and France launched missile strikes on a number of targets in Syria in response to the alleged gas attack. According to the Russian defense ministry, over 100 cruise and air-to-surface missiles were launched, most of which were shot down by Syrian air defense systems.

  Missile Defense System

Also Lavrov said Russia would be ready to consider any assistance to the Syrian armed forces to help it deter any potential aggression following the recent attack on the Middle Eastern state.

“[The western attack] makes us convinced that whatever is required to help the Syrian army to deter aggression, we would be ready to consider it,” Lavrov said when answering a question on whether Moscow had plans to supply Damascus with S-300 air defense systems.

“[Russian] President [Vladimir] Putin addressed this issue. He reminded that a few years ago at the request of our partners we decided not to supply S-300s to Syria. Now as this outrageous act of aggression was undertaken by the United States, France and the United Kingdom, we might think how to make sure that the Syrian state is protected,” the minister added.

  Reckless Behavior

“I believe it was a situation created by very reckless behavior of our western colleagues, who accused the Syrian government and us as allies of the Syrian government of applying chemical weapons against civilians without waiting for the OPCW [Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons] to inspect the place,” he said.

He reiterated that “there is no proof that on April 7 chemical weapons were used in Douma” and that the claimed attack was staged. All the so-called evidence of Syrian government’s guilt that is being provided by the western leaders is “based on media reports and on social networks,” he added.

“When some time ago the three western countries, who are leading this crazy campaign said: ‘if [Syrian President Bashar] Assad uses chemical weapons then we would use force.’ I believe that was a signal to the bad guys,” Lavrov said. “Now after they struck on April 14, they say again if you do this again we will use force again—this is another invitation to the opposition; to the extremists to resume fighting, which they did already. They tried to attack Damascus immediately after the strike.”

 Skripal Poisoning

It was “ridiculous” when UK Prime Minister Theresa May sanctioned Russia after saying that it “highly likely” behind the poisoning of former double agent Sergei Skripal in Salisbury, Lavrov said.

“‘Highly likely’ is a new invention of the British diplomacy to describe why they punish people—because these people are ‘highly likely’ guilty. Like in ‘Alice in Wonderland’ by Lewis Carroll when he described a trial… and the King said: ‘Let’s ask the jury’ and the Queen shouted: ‘No jury! Sentence first! Verdict afterwards!’ That’s the logic of ‘highly likely,’” he explained.

Lavrov said a Swiss laboratory detected traces of BZ, which has been used by the US and UK armies, in samples sent by the OPCW experts investigating the poisoning of Skripal.

“On Saturday, we presented a paper, which contains literally the conclusion of the Swiss laboratory in the city of Spiez… The Swiss laboratory report also said that in the first place they found BZ, which was, I think, invented in the United States in 1955 and was among the equipment of US and UK armies. And we asked OPCW, whom we trust, whether this is true or not that in addition to A234 there was also BZ discovered,” Lavrov said.

Add new comment

Read our comment policy before posting your viewpoints