Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova’s response to a media question regarding the OPCW experts’ access to Douma (source):
Question: What can you say about some Western media outlets’ claims that Russia is blocking the OPCW Fact Finding Mission experts’ access to the town of Douma?
Maria Zakharova: First, I would like to note that we support Director General of the Technical Secretariat of the OPCW Ahild Uzumlu’s decision to send the FFM inspectors to Douma to study the situation on site, namely, to collect evidence, such as soil samples, to run some tests on the people possibly affected by the attack, and so on. Under the Convention on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, all of that should be done only by authorised OPCW inspectors. Then, the evidence is sealed and delivered to certified OPCW laboratories (certified means that their findings are trusted by the OPCW and the entire international community).
I am confident that the entire world wants the OPCW inspectors to have unfettered access to the site of the alleged chemical incident in Douma and do their job. The issue is about providing a firm answer as to whether any poisonous agent was used in Douma on April 7 or not. The stakes are high. After all, the alleged use of chlorine in this town served as a pretext for the western “troika” to launch airstrikes on Syria on April 14 without the sanction of the UN Security Council and in a flagrant violation of the fundamental principles of the UN Charter.
What is particularly cynical is that as soon as a team of international experts went to Syria to conduct the investigation, the “defenders of democracy” in the person of the United States and Britain went ahead with a missile attack on Syria. It was after this “air intervention” that representatives of the UN Department of Safety and Security (UNDSS), the OPCW experts, the Syrian authorities and representatives of the Russian military contingent in Syria had to urgently revise the plans regarding visiting the site of the alleged chemical attack, work out access routes, and re-negotiate the arrangements with the local forces. All the more so, since the irreconcilable militants have once again stepped up their activities in that region in the wake of such “constructive actions” by the United States and Great Britain.
Against this background, the disinformation campaign launched in the Western media claiming that Russia and Syria allegedly hamper the international inspectors’ access to Douma looks at least unseemly. Notably, Russia cannot block the FFM work by definition. After all, it was Russia that supported the Syrian government’s request to the Director General of the OPCW Technical Secretariat to send the OPCW experts to Douma. It is the Syrians and us who are accountable to the entire international community, the Director General of the OPCW, and finally the families, relatives and friends of the courageous FFM inspectors who, despite the difficulties involved, are determined to fulfill their duty.
It’s a shame that some people still want to accuse the Syrian and Russian authorities of neglecting and failing to fulfill their obligations to ensure free access to the site of the alleged chemical incident in Douma. Apparently, they are only too willing to risk the lives of OPCW experts in order to promote the disinformation they spread in the media.
We are not going to fall for these provocations. Russia is doing its part of the work in an exceptionally responsible, highly professional and reliable manner.