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Russia

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Index
  1. Russia Main Page
  2. The Bolshevik Revolution
  3. Emergence of the USSR
  4. The Berlin Blockade and the Cold War
  5. Dissolution of the USSR
  6. Financial Crisis and Political Upheaval
  7. Putin's Rise to Power
  8. Attempts at Chechen Independence Fail
  9. A Shocking Hostage Situation, a Move Towards Climate Change, and Radiation Poison
  10. Crumbling Relations with the United States and Conflict with Georgia
  11. String of Suicide Bombs Sparks Fear of a Crackdown by Putin
  12. Protests and Unrest Surrounds the 2012 Presidential Election
  13. Russia Blocks U.N. Action in Syria
  14. New Laws Passed against Political Activists, Pussy Riot Arrested
  15. Russia enters the World Trade Organization, Won't Renew Weapons Pact with United States
  16. American Fugitive Seeks Asylum in Russia
  17. Russia Assists with Chemical Weapons Investigation in Syria
  18. International Protests and Multiple Bombings Threaten 2014 Olympics
  19. Russia Annexes Crimea, Experiences Economic Fallout Due to Sanctions
  20. Putin Signs Gas Accord with China, Begins Eurasian Union as Ukraine Fallout Continues
Russia Assists with Chemical Weapons Investigation in Syria

On Sept. 9, 2013, U.S. secretary of state John Kerry suggested half-heartedly that a strike on Syria could be averted if Syrian President Bashar al-Assad agreed to hand over all chemical weapons. Russia took the proposal seriously, and Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said, "If the establishment of international control over chemical weapons in the country will prevent attacks, then we will immediately begin work with Damascus. And we call on the Syrian leadership to not only agree to setting the chemical weapons storage sites under international control, but also to their subsequent destruction." Syrian foreign minister Walid al-Moallem also embraced the option. "We are ready to reveal the locations of the chemical weapon sites and to stop producing chemical weapons and make these sites available for inspection by representatives of Russia, other countries and the United Nations," he said in a statement on Sept. 12. It was the first time the Syrian government acknowledged it had chemical weapons. Given the uncertainty of Congressional authorization, diplomacy would spare Obama a potential rebuke that could undercut his authority for the remainder of his presidency.

Russia and the U.S. reached an agreement on Sept. 15 that said Syria must provide an inventory of its chemicals weapons and production facilities within a week and either turn over or destroy all of its chemical weapons by mid-2014. If the government fails to comply, then the UN Security Council would take up the issue. The timetable is extremely aggressive; such disarmament typically takes years, not months. While the agreement delayed a Congressional vote on a military strike, the U.S. kept that possibility on the table. "If diplomacy fails, the United States remains prepared to act," Obama said.

On Sept. 16, the UN confirmed in a report that the chemical agent sarin had been used near Damascus on Aug. 21. "Chemical weapons have been used in the ongoing conflict between the parties in the Syrian Arab Republic, also against civilians, including children, on a relatively large scale," the report said. "The environmental, chemical and medical samples we have collected provide clear and convincing evidence that surface-to-surface rockets containing the nerve agent sarin were used." The report did not indicate who was responsible for launching the attack. Two days later, Russia denounced the UN's report, calling it incomplete. In a statement broadcast on Russian television, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei A. Ryabkov said, "We think that the report was distorted. It was one-sided. The basis of information upon which it is built is insufficient."

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