Interfax: Russian Duma statement warns against Syria ‘aggression’, attacks USA

Russian Duma Building

(Interfax – Moscow, September 11, 2013) The State Duma on Wednesday (11 September) called on the international community not to allow aggression against Syria, where the conflict, in the opinion of deputies, can only be resolved as part of the Geneva conference.

“In an effort to use all available means to avert a catastrophe, the State Duma appeals to the US Congress and the parliaments of other countries not to allow the plans for aggression to be realized and to focus on looking for ways of a peaceful resolution of the internal Syrian conflict while this is still possible,” the lower house said in a statement adopted unanimously.

The State Duma said that the intention of the leaderships of the United States and several other countries to bypass the UN Security Council and “deliver missile and bomb strikes against an independent and sovereign state, the Syrian Arab Republic”, is inadmissible.

“A missile and bomb strike against Syria may jeopardize nuclear and chemical security in the region and lead to new deaths among civilians, further destruction of vital services in the country and, ultimately, an irreversible humanitarian catastrophe,” the statement says.

Those preparing to issue an order for such an attack “should realize that such steps may be qualified as a most serious violation of international law and a crime against the people of Syria,” the document says.

The authors of the statement express “profound bewilderment over the position of the leadership of the US Congress, which has refused to engage in dialogue with representatives of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation”.

“Unwillingness to receive a Russian parliamentary delegation at a time of the extreme exacerbation of the Syrian conflict de facto torpedoes the continuation of inter-parliamentary dialogue on a full range of bilateral relations. Given the shrinking opportunities for such a dialogue, interaction between the Russian Federation and the USA on the most important themes of the Russian-American agenda may also be called into question,” the statement says.

The State Duma considers Russia’s proposal for chemical weapons in Syria to be placed under international control and official Damascus’s support for this initiative to be a serious step towards a peaceful settlement of the conflict.

In the opinion of the statement’s authors, investigations by UN inspectors into incidents involving the use of chemical weapons on Syrian territory should continue, while the results of these investigations should be examined by the UN Security Council.

“Meanwhile, the genuine settlement of the internal Syrian conflict is only possible, in the opinion of the State Duma, as part of the international conference in Geneva, at which official Damascus and the opposition will be able to find mutually acceptable solutions for the sake of peace and welfare on Syrian soil and the stability and security of the entire region,” the statement says.

During the debate on the statement, the first deputy head of the State Duma Committee on International Affairs (Leonid Kalashnikov) proposed several amendments to the text. For example, in his opinion, the statement should have been amended so as to say that in the event of future US military action against Syria, the State Duma would be able to recommend that the Russian Federation president and government consider the possibility of withdrawal from the treaty on measures for further reduction and limitation of strategic offensive arms (START III).

The proposed amendments also recommended that the country’s leadership consider the possibility of expanding deliveries of defensive arms to Iran and the possibility of variation of the terms for the transit of ISAF cargoes via the Northern Distribution Network.

For his part, the head of the State Duma Committee on International Affairs, Aleksey Pushkov, proposed that these amendments be examined in the future during the possible adoption of a second statement by the State Duma if the USA delivers a strike against Syria despite the Russian peace initiative.

Therefore, the amendments were not included in the text of the statement.