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Moscow Criticizes West Over Vote By Chemical Arms Watchdog

Russia is claiming that the West is seeking to turn an international convention on chemical weapons into a tool to pursue its own agenda.

The accusation was leveled by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on November 21, a day after Russia failed to prevent the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) from receiving new powers to assign blame for chemical attacks like those in Syria or Britain.

Western countries pressed for the implementation of the new powers after several chemical incidents in Syria, as well as a nerve-agent attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal in Britain in March.

"They are trying to turn a unique tool of international law -- the Chemical Weapons Convention -- into an obedient tool to promote Western policies," Lavrov said in the Belarusian capital, Minsk.

The 1997 convention, under which almost all the countries pledged to give up chemical weapons, made possible the creation of the OPCW.

Lavrov blasted the November 20 vote in which member states approved a 2019 budget for the watchdog that includes funding for the new role.

"It's a worrisome situation," he said.

Lavrov also accused the OPCW members that supported the move of violating the "fundamentals of international law" and claimed that "blackmail and bribery" had taken place before the vote.

With reporting by AFP and TASS
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