Fresh allegations by British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson blaming Russia for September’s attack on an aid convoy in Syria have roused the ire of Moscow. The Russian Defense Ministry has given a harsh response, dismissing the remarks as "Russophobic hysteria."
On Tuesday, Johnson told MPs in the House of Commons that the Russian Air Force was responsible for September’s attack on the UN humanitarian aid convoy in Aleppo, citing open source-based satellite images.
The Russian Defense Ministry spokesman, Igor Konashenkov, on Wednesday dismissed the claims as baseless, stressing that “there were no Russian aircraft in the area near the humanitarian convoy.”
“The Russophobic hysteria of certain members of the British establishment is no longer impressive," Konashenkov noted.
“As of September 20, we witness the third wave of accusations that allege Russia’s involvement in the destruction of a humanitarian convoy near Aleppo,” he added.
“Every time we hear of testimonies of some ‘eyewitnesses and volunteers’ – who then turn out to be al-Nusra militants – or of some ‘credible evidence’ possessed by US intelligence, [it is] later refuted by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford in the Congress.”
The UN said at least 18 trucks in a 31-vehicle convoy had been destroyed during the late hours of September 19 as they came under attack en route to deliver humanitarian aid to the hard-to-reach town of Urum al-Kubra. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said in a statement that the airstrike had killed about 20 people. The victims included volunteers as well as a Syrian Arab Red Crescent staffer.
Washington quickly held Moscow responsible for the attack. But Russia said that neither its military nor that of Syria had conducted any airstrike against the convoy, with Konashenkov even stating that there had been no signs of an airstrike targeting the aid supply trucks.
Speaking at a meeting of the UN Security Council on September 21, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called for a thorough and impartial investigation into the attack.
Russia has been engaged in an aerial campaign against terrorist groups in Syria upon a request by Damascus.
Johnson's 'shameful' call
Elsewhere in his speech during the emergency parliamentary debate on the situation in Aleppo, Boris Johnson called for protests outside the Russian Embassy in London against the alleged attack.
Reacting to the comments, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova slammed Johnson’s proposal as shameful, mocking his earlier statement that the “most potent weapon” against Russia is “shame.”
“It looks like Boris Johnson has moved from words to action, and has unleashed the very weapon with which he threatened Russia – shame,” Zakharova wrote on her official Facebook account. “As of now, we all feel ashamed on his behalf.”