Wednesday, March 05, 2014

You can't teach an old bear new tricks

People seem surprised that Russia would brazenly deny that those Russian soldiers in Crimea are Russian soldiers. Cast your mind back to last August and the Bashar al-Assad machine chemical weapons attack in Damascus and these remarks soon after (31 August) from Vladimir Putin --

VLADIMIR PUTIN: We have been discussing this issue with our American partners. You know our position. As regards the possible use of weapons of mass destruction – any weapons of mass destruction, including chemical weapons – our position is consistent. We are categorically opposed to them, we condemn them and, accordingly, if their use can be proven, we will participate in developing countermeasures. With regards to this case specifically: as you know, the Syrian government already asked the international community to conduct inspections, as they believed that rebels had used chemical weapons. But unfortunately nothing happened. A reaction occurred only after [August] 21, when these weapons were used once again. What do I think? Common sense speaks for itself. Syrian government troops are on the offensive. In some regions they have encircled the rebels. Under these conditions, the idea of giving a trump card to those who are constantly calling for foreign military intervention is utter nonsense. It is not logical in the least; especially when it [the attack] coincides with the day UN inspectors arrived. Therefore I am convinced that [the chemical attack] is nothing more than a provocation by those who want to drag other countries into the Syrian conflict, and who want the support of powerful members of the international community, especially the United States. I have no doubt about this. As for the position of our American colleagues and friends who claim that government forces have used weapons of mass destruction, in this case chemical weapons, and that they have evidence thereof: let them present it to UN inspectors and the Security Council. Claims that proof exists, but that it is classified and cannot be shown to anyone are beneath criticism. It’s simply a lack of respect for their partners and participants in international activities. If there is evidence, they must produce it. If they don’t, then there is none. Allusions to the fact that there are certain communications intercepts do not prove anything, and cannot act as the foundation for making a fundamental decision like whether or not to use force against a sovereign state.

Russia later rejected the UN inspector's report which put on the table a trail of evidence leading directly to the Assads.