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Why Russia Does Not Believe Syria Used Chemical Weapons

Russia does not believe that Syria used chemical weapons against insurgents, and therefore considers this week's revelation as information warfare to escalate the conflict, writes Fyodor Lukyanov.
A general view shows Khan al-Assal area near the northern city of Aleppo, near the site where forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad say was Tuesday's chemical weapon attack March 23, 2013. The United Nations said on Thursday it would investigate Syria's allegations that rebel forces used chemical weapons in an attack near Aleppo, but Western countries sought a probe of all claims concerning the use of such banned arms. The deaths of 26 people in that rocket attack became the focus of competing c

When talk arose within the United States and Israel of the possibility of Damascus using chemical weapons against insurgents, Moscow became alarmed. Since US President Barack Obama had earlier clearly stated that such action would be considered a casus belli, an immediate suspicion arose that a campaign to create a basis for a massive intervention in Syria was in the making.  

The problem with current international relations is the lack of means to verify information that would be regarded as trustworthy by all parties involved. In that controlled system, which existed during the Cold War years, there was certainly also room for provocations. However, the two superpowers, at the highest level of the world hierarchy, in the first place, took an interest in seeing that nothing would occur outside what they willed; secondly, they were well-aware that the price of incompetent intrigue could be unacceptable, nuclear conflict. In the conditions of intense nuclear deterrence, it was necessary to always be able to immediately assess where there was a real threat, and where there was a technology of a controllable escalation in any conflict.

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