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Russia Eyeing $2 Million for Syrian Chemical-Arms Removal

An Albanian activist on Tuesday protests in Tirana against the possibility of using Albania as a site for destroying Syria's chemical weapons stockpile. Russia on Wednesday said it may donate $2 million to help the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons eliminate Syria's chemical arms (Gent Shkullaku/AFP/Getty Images). An Albanian activist on Tuesday protests in Tirana against the possibility of using Albania as a site for destroying Syria's chemical weapons stockpile. Russia on Wednesday said it may donate $2 million to help the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons eliminate Syria's chemical arms (Gent Shkullaku/AFP/Getty Images).

Russia said on Wednesday it is considering donating $2 million along with technical assistance to help an international organization eliminate Syria's chemical weapons, Reuters reported.

The news comes as the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons is poised on Friday to approve a final plan from Syria for destroying its chemical arms, which President Bashar Assad has said could cost $1 billion. His regime on Oct. 23 submitted a confidential initial elimination plan. U.S. officials, though, have questioned if Syria disclosed all of its sites.

"Russia, in principle, is ready to offer technical assistance, experts and perhaps financial assistance. This issue is being discussed, but the amount is somewhere around $2 million," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said in a report by the state-run RIA news agency, according to Reuters.

The chemical-arms watchdog agency has raised roughly $13.5 million for its joint effort with the United Nations in Syria, which thus far has consisted of inspecting and destroying equipment from the 23 chemical-weapons sites Assad that disclosed to the Hague-based body in the midst of an ongoing civil war. The Syrian government in September agreed to eliminate its roughly 1,300 metric tons of sarin nerve agent and mustard gas following international condemnation of an Aug. 21 sarin gas attack on citizens.

The United States is the largest contributor to the OPCW-U.N. disarmament effort, donating $6 million in money, equipment and training. Britain has pledged $3 million, with additional contributions coming from Canada, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland.

The OPCW's $13.5 million account has grown in recent weeks. Its director general, Ahmet Üzümcü, said in an Oct. 25 document that it had $5.4 million on hand -- only enough funding for personnel through the end of November.

The chemical-weapons watchdog said it is paying for staff and equipment using its standard budget, as well as a special trust fund where member states are pooling their financial contributions.

The actual destruction of the chemicals is expected to take place outside of Syria. Albania is said to be a top contender to host those activities, though Albanian activists have been demonstrating against the prospect.

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