White House to release refutation of Russian claims about chemical weapon attack

Russia has been lying about the chemical weapon strike in Syria since shortly after it happened. As Ed noted earlier today, Vladimir Putin has decided to personally double down on his disinformation campaign and continue his calls for a UN investigation into the attack. But while Putin tries to drag the question before the UN where his spokesmen can bloviate and block any action against Syria, the White House is releasing a document later today which makes clear the Russian claims about the attack are false. From Eli Lake at Bloomberg View:

“The Syrian regime and its primary backer, Russia, have sought to confuse the world community about who is responsible for using chemical weapons against the Syrian people in this and earlier attacks,” the dossier says. Another passage says Moscow’s response to the April 4 incident “follows a familiar pattern of Russia’s response to egregious actions; it spins out multiple, conflicting accounts in order to create confusion and sow doubt within the international community.” The dossier also derided a “drumbeat of nonsensical claims” from Syria and its allies, a clear reference to Russia.

The dossier refutes the Russian claim that the attack was on an opposition-held chemical weapons depot. It notes that commercial satellite video showed a crater in the road and no attack on a chemical weapons depot.

Lake reports that Russian diplomats have been repeating the same propaganda claims about the attack that Russia has been making in public. A U.S. source tells him, “That has led to a lot of frustration at the highest levels of the government.”

There is one noteworthy omission from the report. Yesterday the Associated Press published a story in which an anonymous U.S. official claimed Russia knew about the chemical attack in advance. That conclusion was based on the presence of a Russian surveillance drone over a hospital where victims of the chemical attack were treated. The hospital was later bombed in an apparent attempt to cover up the use of chemical weapons. But the new report is apparently silent on whether or not Russia knew about the attack in advance.

The bottom line here is that Russia is lying about what happened in Syria, exactly as they have done before. The U.S. is publicly confronting those lies as we have done before. The real question is what action the new administration will take in response.