The Russian Defense Ministry, Foreign Ministry, and Ministry of Industry and Trade have issued a report on chemical attacks in Syria to refute claims made by the UN-OPCW report, which pointed the finger at the Syrian government for using chemical weapons in Khan Sheikhoun.
The foreign ministry called the report “unprofessional and amateur” and said media reports saying that Russia is encouraging the use of chemical weapons in Syria is a “hysteria” campaign.
Firstly, the Russian report highlighted that the nearest Syrian warplane, in relation to the area where the chemical attack occurred, was five kilometers away. “Had the plane flown on the route which was registered by the United States … it could not have attacked Khan Sheikhoun from a simply technical point of view,” the document read.
Secondly, the characteristics of the bomb crater indicate that the ammunition used in the attack was detonated on the ground, according to the Russian Defense Ministry.
Lastly, a Russian chemical expert noted that photos of White Helmet volunteers touching the site where a sarin bomb had purportedly exploded indicate that claims of a chemical attack are baseless. Mikhail Ulyanov, head of the Non-Proliferation and Arms Control Department of the Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry, commented on the images, saying if the site had been contaminated by a sarin bomb explosion, “these people would have already been dead.”
The foreign ministry pointed out that the alleged chemical attack in Khan Sheikhoun in the Idlib province was conducted remotely. "The investigation … was carried out remotely in New York and the Hague offices, as well as on the territory of one of the countries bordering Syria. This could not help but affect the quality of the investigation, which turned out to be extremely low."
It went on to assert that "according to our assessment, the risk of chemical crimes spilling outside the borders of Syria and Iraq is very high, and even outside the Middle East such incidents could start taking place — in Afghanistan, in Russia, and in Western Europe."
Ulyanov said he "expected that the mechanism and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons fact-finding mission would ensure a completely unbiased and a highly professional manner of investigation to decidedly and conclusively establish the guilty party. I shall say straight away that these expectations were not met."
Russian officials have sustained that the Syrian government has not used chemical weapons because such an act would only benefit terrorist groups operating in the country.