Moscow Foreign Ministry
© Sputnik/ Vladimir Pesnya
The Russian Foreign Ministry sharply criticized an unofficial US report containing the assessment of Russia's position regarding the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

"After a thorough study of this document, we have to state that the content of this material has nothing to do with reality and completely distorts our country's approaches to investigating such incidents," the ministry said in a commentary on the report that was circulated by the US delegation at the United Nations on January 9.

The ministry also described attempts to impose responsibility for chemical attacks in Syria solely on Damascus as "devoid of any logic."

"We once again call on the partners on the UN Security Council to show common sense and objectively assess the essence of the US attempts to present a false image of the perpetrators of chemical incidents in Syria," the commentary said.

A similar position has been voiced by the Syrian side, which urged the United States to stop supporting armed groups in Syria perpetrating chemical attacks and blaming the Syrian government for them, as this situation benefits the terrorists operating in the country.

Meanwhile, the US expressed hope that Russia would be a constructive partner in the Syrian issue.

"We are working with the UN and the UN special representative on how we can constructively engage through and with the United Nations - we hope with Russia as a constructive partner," a senior US State Department official said on January 19. "We hope with Russia as a positive element in helping move the Syrian regime to serious engagement in Geneva with the Syrian opposition to see a political transition take place."

Comment: Russia has been, from day one, the main driver for establishing a political transition in Syria. As Brig. General Abdel Majid Abdel Hamid said in the fall of 2017:
"The Russian political and diplomatic position on Syria which manifested itself in the use of the veto six times [in the UN Security Council] did not allow the United States and NATO hit the country... It plays a big role in the success of negotiations [on the Syrian settlement in Astana and Geneva], or, at least, in persuading the countries that support the opposition to send delegations, the efforts in this area are ongoing," Hamid said.

The statements were made after Washington blocked the draft UN Security Council resolution introduced by Bolivia on the renewal of the UN-OPCW Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) mandate, established by the UN and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in 2015 to determine who is to blame for the chemical attacks in Syria.

The JIM's mandate expires on November 17, amid the United States and Russia two different visions of the body's future. The countries have earlier presented two different versions of the renewal, both proposals suggesting an extension of the mission, but on different terms.

Russia vetoed the US draft resolution that sought to prolong the mandate of the fact-finding mission examining the use of chemical weapons in Syria. Its own draft, put on a vote and co-sponsored by China and Bolivia, fell short of the required number of votes at the UN Security Council.