On Monday Russia’s U.N. envoy told the U.N. Security Council that the attack was “staged” and a “large-scale provocation,” citing Seymour Hersh’s recent claim in the London Review of Books that top American officials knew that the Syrian opposition had mastered Sarin production and should have been suspected of executing the attack.
Hersh’s account is just the latest specious theory pushed by Moscow, which are as irreconcilable with each other as they are with publicly available information of the attack.
It’s important to note that actual debate of the facts may not be the Kremlin’s goal. After the UNSC meeting, Britain’s U.N. ambassador Mark Lyall Grant tweeted: “Russia uses Giant Squid Defence – squirt lots of ink in attempt to muddy waters on regime culpability. Doesn’t work.”
Furthermore, according to this stellar Wall Street Journal report on the attack, Russian knew that the Syrian government was gassing Ghouta as it was happening.
Calls came in to the presidential palace from Syrian allies Russia and Iran, as well as from Hezbollah, the Lebanese militant group whose fighters were inadvertently caught up in the gassing, according to previously undisclosed intelligence gathered by U.S., European and Middle Eastern spy agencies.
So it seems Russia is going to back Assad no matter what, even if that means peddling the latest conspiracy theory regarding the most egregious use of weapons of mass destruction in the 21st century.
And it seems to being working since the subsequent chemical weapons deal has re-legitimized Assad. Russia, the U.S., and China are now working with Syria to transfer the chemical stockpiles that Assad’s regime has acknowledged.
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