A Chemistry Lesson for Sikorski

September 5, 2013
Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski (left) and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov | RFERL

Apparently it took a while for the Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski to figure out what to do to stand out from the chorus of EU politicians who realize more and more clearly with every day what kind of catastrophic consequences for international relations the U.S. attack on Syria, without UN authorization, will have.

His solo was so “impressive” that it took the Russian Foreign Ministry three days to prepare a response, that would contain not only questions and exclamation marks.

On August 30, Sikorski said: “I believe that if Russia promised to maintain control of the Syrian chemical weapons arsenals, such a decision could have a significant impact on the development of the situation.” He also stressed that Russia, as the successor to the Soviet Union, is responsible for the fact that Syria has chemical weapons: “We know that the Syrian arsenal of chemical weapons was formed during Soviet times. This is a technology of the Soviet Union.” He added that Poland decided to lay on Russia part of the blame for the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

“Nothing could be further from reality — a commentary by the Information and Press Department of the Russian Foreign Ministry. It must be acknowledged that the basis for the establishment of the chemical industry the Syrian Arab Republic in 1970-1980s were clearly not Soviet, but rather Western technologies and supplies of precursor chemicals, including those of dual purpose. As to the idea expressed by the head of the Polish foreign Ministry that Russia should take responsibility for the safety of the Syrian chemical arsenals, such a suggestion cannot but raise a lot of eyebrows. Responsibility for the safety of the chemical weapons lies with the sovereign government of Syria, no one else. Neither internal nor external forces should interfere with the task or in the process. All the warring parties in Syria should be aware that the use of chemical warfare agents is totally unacceptable”.

Sikorsky, however, didn’t stop at that and continued to “solo”. While the majority of EU states warn against jumping to conclusions about who used chemical weapons in Syria, and in general, whether or not it was used, before the report of the UN experts becomes available, the Polish Foreign Minister has already delivered his verdict. “In my opinion, the chemical attack was carried out in Syria and, most likely, by the Assad regime”, Sikorski said in an interview with Polish television. “This use of chemical weapons in the 21st century creates a very dangerous precedent. President Obama’s decision to give more time to convince Congress gives Russia and China a chance to change their positions.” Obviously, it never occurred to the Polish Foreign Minister, at least hypothetically, that he and his American allies could be wrong.