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On Thursday, top diplomats of Russia and the United States will start two-day talks in Geneva. Sergei Lavrov and John Kerry will discuss a plan to place Syrian chemical weapons under international control. Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that the plan can be fulfilled only if Damascus receives guarantees against a foreign military attack. For his part, US President Barack Obama pledged to delay the preparation to a military strike on Syria for two weeks to make sure that the plan is feasible.
Probably, Russia will put forth a demand for guarantees over no use of force against Syria that Putin mentioned on Wednesday, the Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily believes. He said that chemical disarmament “is reasonable and can be realized... only if we learn that the United States and all those who support the United States in this issue refuse from the use of force.” “As it is difficult to make any country - Syria or another country, any other country - disarm unilaterally, if some military action is being prepared against it,” Putin said.
“Moscow shows cautiousness in the right way,” the daily quoted Deputy Director of the MGIMO Institute of International Research Viktor Mizin as saying. “I believe that Russia does not want to get in an awkward situation similar to that in Libya, supporting a resolution that would be interpreted in the wrong way then,” he said.
“Obama will hardly give a strong pledge not to use force against Syria. In this case the conservative wing of U.S. politicians would accuse him again of being a weak president and giving way to the pressure from Moscow,” Mizin believes. “Judging by the address to the nation, Obama retained the right to use force, if something goes in the wrong way,” he noted.
The main question of skeptical people regarding Russia’s initiative: whether it is real to put it into practice? the Moskovsky Komsomolets daily believes. The experts said in the debates on the TV channel CNN that up to 1,000 UN experts and only God knows how many people to guard them can be needed to place Syrian chemical weapons under international control. And then it is needed to take out all these weapons and destroy somewhere that is also a quite difficult task.
Moscow proposes to settle the problem of Syrian chemical weapons in several stages: the first stage - Syria joins the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the second stage - Damascus makes public the chemical weapons storage sites and their production facilities, the third stage - Damascus permits the OPCW experts to go there, the fourth stage - Damascus decides together with the inspectors how and who will destroy the chemical weapons, a Russian diplomatic source of the Kommersant daily said.
The Kommersant source explained that the question who will be destroying Syrian chemical weapons is not settled yet, but he did not rule out that Russia and the US would be able to work on this issue together within the updated Nunn-Lugar program, which envisages Russian-US cooperation in the destruction of mass destruction weapons of the third countries. There will be no problems with the funding of the works, the source said.
“Meanwhile, the fulfillment of the Russian plan can begin only after the US agrees on it. It is expected following this step that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon should make a special statement in support of the plan, after that a specific resolution will be put up for consideration of the UN Security Council. Moscow contemplates that the resolution should not contain any ultimatums and threats to use force,” the daily reported.