Interfax: Cyrillic marking on rocket splinter doesn’t implicate Syria government – Kremlin official [Sergei Ivanov]

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(Interfax – VLADIVOSTOK, Russia. September 21, 2013) The Kremlin’s chief of staff, in comments on a recent find in Syria, has dismissed suspicions that a Cyrillic inscription on a splinter of a rocket that apparently carried a chemical charge was evidence that the Syrian government was the perpetrator of last month’s chemical attacks near Damascus.

“A marking in Cyrillic has been found of – let me stress – one of the Soviet rockets that were produced in the 1950s and 1960s but were not produced afterwards,” Sergei Ivanov told Russia’s Rossiya television.

He said the Soviet Union exported weapons to dozens of countries in those and subsequent years.

Moreover, Soviet-made arms were re-exported without license from Eastern European countries such as Poland and Bulgaria, he claimed.

“We don’t even know what was exported, but it was. Those obsolete rockets might have been stored in depots anywhere, and I suspect that some of them were in Libya, where they were stolen from depots during the so-called democratic revolution, and it’s unclear where they are. I mean it’s clear where they are – all over the world,” he said.

“It’s unclear how such rockets ended up in Syria, though I’m not saying they ended up in the hands of the Syrian army. But there is one fact that is absolute, 100% general knowledge – the Soviet Union never supplied any sarin warheads for Syria, or for any other country, for that matter, because this would have been a flagrant violation of our commitments under international agreements. It could never have happened. Even in the Soviet period, we were members of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons,” Ivanov said.

However, “it is an absolutely logical and possible scenario to fix a warhead on an old rocket,” he said.

Besides the splinter with the Cyrillic inscription, the find included large cylinders with traces of sarin on them. “It’s 100% definite that those were improvised containers. Because no army in the world uses such containers,” he said.