Reply to Russia on Raising Syria in the Permanent Council | USOSCE

Flags with the OSCE logo in Russian and English in front of the Hofburg in Vienna. (OSCE/Mikhail Evstafiev)

Thank you, Mr. Chair, for giving me the floor.

I’d like to respond to the comments of our distinguished Russian colleague.

First, in terms of his question of why my delegation raised Syria today and at the Mediterranean conference: as I’m sure he’s aware the ICRC does a lot of very important work on the ground in a number of places, but the work that it has been attempting to do on the ground in Syria is, I’m sure, at or near the top of President Maurer’s agenda. So, since we are responding to him, it seems entirely appropriate to comment on his agenda.

Likewise, when we’re talking with our Mediterranean partners – many of whom who are bearing enormous costs and who, like Turkey, are neighbors of Syria, bearing the costs of the refugees that are being created by Russia’s ongoing support for the Syrian regime — then this also seems to be a reasonable thing to raise in the context of our discussions with our Mediterranean partners.

My second point is that our distinguished Russian colleague today said that the Russian Federation is acting “solely on the basis of liquidating ISIL”. If that is the case, then they are doing an extremely lousy job, because the actions that they have taken have done more to liquidate innocent civilians than they have done to liquidate ISIL.

Finally, it should be noted that many of our partners have joined us in condemning Russia for their indiscriminate bombing of the Syrian people. Russian military and economic support to Syria enables the Asad regime to continue its military campaign against its own people, which it has done in violation of international law as demonstrated by the last UN-OPCW report released this past weekend. Together, we will continue to condemn these barrel bombs, chemicals, and the siege, starve, and surrender tactics Russia and the regime have used in their heinous campaign.

Specifically, we strongly condemn the renewal of airstrikes and ground attacks yesterday on Aleppo by the Syrian Regime and Russia. The so-called humanitarian pause that Russia initiated ended before the UN and the ICRC could organize medical evacuations and humanitarian aid deliveries; as the ICRC said: “We’re very disappointed with this outcome, especially for those who need life-saving treatment. They cannot afford to wait any longer.”

Thank you.

As delivered by Ambassador Daniel B. Baer to the Permanent Council, Vienna