BEIRUT — Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that he is ready to provide Lebanon with satellite images of the Beirut port, in order to help the country move forward with its investigation into the Aug. 4, 2020, explosion that killed more than 218 and injured thousands. However, he added that he was unsure if such images would aid the probe.
Here’s what we know:
• During a conference in Sochi, Russia, Putin said the main cause of the explosion was a large quantity of ammonium nitrate stored at the port for a long period of time because “authorities did not know what to do with it.”
• Putin confirmed that satellite images of the port existed, but expressed doubt that they would help in the domestic investigation. “I frankly don't understand how satellite images could help. We have such images, yes. I promise to study the subject if that helps. We must first ask our colleagues if these images can help. If so, we will obviously provide those images,” Putin said.
• The Aug. 4, 2020, explosion was the result of the detonation of tons of ammonium nitrate, carelessly stored in a port warehouse for years. The precise cause of the detonation has not been determined.
• More than a year after the tragedy, the investigation is struggling to move forward amid political pressure, particularly from Shiite parties Hezbollah and the Amal Movement, but also from Sunni and Christian politicians, that the probe’s head investigator, Judge Tarek Bitar, be removed. A Hezbollah and Amal organized demonstration to express opposition to Bitar’s investigation ended in violent street clashes in the Tayyouneh area of Beirut on Oct. 14, leaving seven people dead and more than 30 wounded.
• Commenting on the Tayyouneh violence, Putin stressed the need to resolve the discord through dialogue without bloodshed and said his country “is in contact with all political forces in Lebanon” in an effort to achieve this. Describing Hezbollah as “a great political force in Lebanon,” he said Russia would continue engaging with Lebanon’s political groups “in order to reach a compromise and avoid bloodshed.” The president added that bloodshed “does not suit the interests of any party, especially in view of the continuously disturbed situation in Lebanon and the Middle East lately” and said Russia “will do everything possible to convince all Lebanese parties of the need to prioritize reason and try to find a compromise.”
BEIRUT — Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that he is ready to provide Lebanon with satellite images of the Beirut port, in order to help the country move forward with its investigation into the Aug. 4, 2020, explosion that killed more than 218 and injured thousands. However, he added that he was unsure if such images would aid the probe.Here’s what we know: •...