Wikileaks: Russia Appreciates ‘Limited Arms Sales to Georgia’ by Israel


C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MOSCOW 001488 

SIPDIS 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/05/2019 
TAGS: PGOV PREL IR IS SY GG RS
SUBJECT: ISRAELI FM LIEBERMAN IN MOSCOW 

Classified By: Political M/C Alice G. Wells for reasons 1.4 (b/d). 

1. (C) Summary: Israeli FM Lieberman's June 2-3 visit to 
Russia appears not to have broken new ground diplomatically, 
but cemented Moscow's impression that the Russian-speaking 
Lieberman is one of their own.  The trip included meetings 
with Medvedev and Putin, as well as a lengthy discussion with 
FM Lavrov, during which Lieberman indicated that Israel was 
not considering a military strike on Iran.  Both sides agreed 
to hold off on scheduling the Moscow ME conference until 
after President Obama's visit to Moscow, and Lavrov quizzed 
Lieberman on a possible U.S. plan to bring together Israeli 
and Palestinian leaders.  Lieberman rebuffed Lavrov's calls 
for Israel to ease the pressure on Gaza and halt settlement 
expansion, while Lavrov agreed to consider Lieberman's 
request for Russian officials to visit the Israeli soldier 
held by Hamas.  Lavrov said that "nothing new" could happen 
on Iran until the U.S. opened its dialogue with Tehran, and 
repeated Russian concerns about the need to reach a 
negotiated settlement with this "important neighbor."  He 
reiterated that Russia had not transferred S-300s to Iran, 
but also had to consider its contract to provide the missiles 
to Tehran.  Lavrov thanked Israel for limiting military sales 
to Georgia, but thought other countries were supplying 
offensive weapons to Tiblisi, which could be emboldened to 
start "another adventure."  The FMs discussed expanding 
bilateral economic ties, and Lavrov raised Russian concern 
that Israel was partaking in "historical revisionism" that 
sought to blame Russia for the Ukrainian famine of the 1930s. 
 End summary. 

Behaved Like an Old Friend 
-------------------------- 

2. (C) Israeli DCM Yuval Fuchs told us that FM Lieberman's 
June 2-3 visit to Russia ran the gamut of international and 
bilateral issues, from the peace process to the payment of 
Soviet-era pensions to Russian speakers living in Israel. 
His visit centered upon a two-hour June 2 meeting with FM 
Lavrov that Fuchs characterized as a standard presentation of 
views, during which "nothing breathtaking" was said. 
Lieberman had a hectic day that began with a meeting at 
Medvedev's home on the outskirts of Moscow, then the Lavrov 
meeting at the MFA, a flight to St. Petersburg on a chartered 
plane to see Putin, and dinner with Lavrov upon returning to 
Moscow.  On June 3, Lieberman had breakfast with former FM 
Igor Ivanov (a personal friend), meetings with the heads of 
the Duma and Federation Council international affairs 
committees, discussions with Russian Jewish leaders, and a 
press conference.  He then departed Moscow for Minsk. 

3. (C) Fuchs explained that Lieberman conducted his meetings 
in Russian, shared stories about Moscow, and smoked, creating 
a comfortable atmosphere with his Russian interlocutors.  The 
Israeli FM "behaved like an old friend" commented Fuchs, who 
thought that the Russians acted as if they already knew him, 
although it was too early to say whether this personal 
diplomacy would have a measurable effect on already strong 
Russia-Israel relations. 

Lavrov-Lieberman 
---------------- 

4. (C) Fuchs said that during the meeting with Lavrov, the 
GOR's planned Moscow ME conference was not a central topic 
for either side.  Lieberman stressed the importance of 
coordinating such efforts with the U.S., and said it would 
not be appropriate to set the timing of a conference until 
after President Obama's visit to Moscow.  Lavrov agreed, and 
said that Moscow did not want to hold a conference that would 
not produce results.  Lavrov asked Lieberman if Israel was 
aware of an idea supposedly floated by S/E Mitchell to bring 
together Israeli and Palestinian leaders; Lieberman said no. 

5. (C) Lavrov pressed Israel to open checkpoints into Gaza, 
and suggested posting international monitors to allay Israeli 
concerns regarding smuggling.  When Lavrov argued that Hamas 
had stuck by the Gaza cease-fire, Lieberman retorted that 
Hamas would break the cease-fire when it believed doing so 
suited its needs.  Lavrov also pressed Israel to freeze the 
settlements, leading Lieberman to respond that "life goes on" 
and settlement expansion was necessary to accommodate growing 
communities. 

6. (C) Fuchs said that Lavrov criticized the U.S. on several 
fronts, telling Lieberman that the U.S. invasion of Iraq was 
a "present" to Iran, and the U.S. decision to isolate Syria 
was a "setback" for a comprehensive ME settlement. 
Furthermore, the U.S. failure to "listen" to Russia, which 

MOSCOW 00001488  002 OF 002 

advised against Palestinian elections, had allowed Hamas to 
come to power and eventually take over Gaza, thereby 
strengthening Iran's position in the region. 

Syria 
----- 

7. (C) Lavrov thought that the Turkish-led negotiations 
between Israel and Syria had been positive, and said that 
during his recent visit to Damascus, the Syrians indicated 
that they were ready to renew talks either through Turkey or 
Russia so long as they would include the future of the Golan 
Heights.  Lavrov said that he raised with Hamas leaders the 
need to allow visits to captured IDF soldier Gilad Shalit. 
Lieberman asked if Russian officials could visit Shalit, and 
Lavrov directed DFM Saltanov to explore this possibility. 

Iran 
---- 

8. (C) Lavrov predicted that "nothing new" would happen with 
Iran until after the U.S. began its dialogue with Tehran, 
although he thought there was a better chance to get a "clear 
answer" from Iran on P5 1 proposals under the current U.S. 
Administration.  He reiterated that Russia did not believe 
there existed hard evidence that Iran's nuclear program had a 
military dimension, and thought it transparent enough to 
detect whether resources were directed to military uses. 

9. (C) Lavrov expressed Russian interest in reaching a 
negotiated solution to the crisis surrounding Iran's nuclear 
program, and the need for the West to normalize relations 
with Tehran, a close Russian neighbor with which it shared 
the Caspian and its resources.  He raised Russian concern 
that an Israeli attack on Iran would cause instability in the 
region and an influx of refugees into the Caucasus.  Fuchs 
said that Lieberman responded that Israel "was not talking 
about such a response" and understood that an attack would 
cause a "chain reaction" within the region.  Lieberman made 
similar statements suggesting that Israel was not considering 
attacking Iran during his press conference. 

10. (C) Lavrov reiterated that Russia and Iran had signed a 
deal to provide S-300s, but that Russia had not transferred 
any weapons.  The GOR did not intend to provide regionally 
destabilizing weapons, but also had to take into account how 
it would be perceived by others if Moscow failed to fulfill 
its contract with Tehran. 

Georgia 
------- 

11. (C) Lavrov expressed Russian appreciation for Israeli 
steps to limit arms sales to Georgia to defensive weapons, 
but raised concern that other countries were supplying 
offensive weapons.  He was also concerned that the recent 
military exercises Georgia conducted with NATO might push 
Tiblisi to undertake "another adventure". 

Bilateral Issues 
---------------- 

12. (C) Fuchs said that much of the discussion between Lavrov 
and Lieberman focused on expanding bilateral ties, especially 
in the economic sphere.  They also touched upon parochial 
issues of concern to Lieberman and his constituents, such as 
the payment of pensions owed by the Soviet Union and Russia 
to Russian-speaking Israelis. 

13. (C) Lavrov raised Russian concern with "historical 
revisionism" regarding the Soviet Era and Second World War, 
which, he said, was particularly acute in Eastern Europe but 
was also present in Israel.  He cited Israel's official 
recognition of the Holodomor, the 1930s famine that occurred 
in Ukraine.  Lieberman explained that by recognizing this 
tragedy, Israel had not said Russia was guilty of causing it, 
nor that it was an act of genocide. 
BEYRLE

http://cablegate.wikileaks.org/cable/2009/06/09MOSCOW1488.html

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 MOSCOW 000392 

SIPDIS 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/21/2019 
TAGS: PGOV PREL RS IR
SUBJECT: IRAN DOMINATES NETANYAHU'S VISIT TO MOSCOW 

Classified By: Acting Political Minister Counselor Eric Green for reaso 
ns 1.4 (b) and (d). 

1.  (C) Summary:  In a two-day visit to Moscow, PM Netanyahu 
pressed his case on Iran while the GOR was more focused on 
trade than the MEPP.  The Israeli PM downplayed disagreements 
over Hamas and welcomed government initiatives to help 
crisis-depleted economic relations.  Netanyahu came away 
pleasantly surprised with Moscow's tougher attitude towards 
Tehran and the GOR's willingness to countenance sanctions, 
even though disagreement remains on their content.  Israeli 
contacts are confident Russia will not deliver the S-300s to 
Iran anytime soon.  End Summary. 

---------------------- 
A Special Relationship 
---------------------- 

2.  (C) In his first official visit to Russia, PM Netanyahu 
met with President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin as well 
as leaders from Russia's Jewish community.  Both sides 
described this as a productive visit with "frank but positive 
discussions." 

3.  (C) Israeli DCM Roi Rosenblit said Netanyahu's visit 
emphasized the "special relationship" between Israel and 
Russia.  He indicated that this the connection between the 
two countries has flourished in the past year.  Thanks to 
visa free travel, 400,000 Russian tourists travelled to 
Israel in 2009. 

--------------------------------------------- -- 
Bilateral Economic and Cultural Ties Increasing 
--------------------------------------------- -- 

4.  (C) According to Dmitri Lebedov, Second Secretary in the 
MFA's Israel and Palestine Department, there was some 
discussion of economic issues, including cooperation in 
nanotechnology, agriculture, tourism and banking.  The 
Russian-Israeli Bilateral Economic and Trade Commission last 
met in November 2009.  The commission is planning another 
meeting in 2010 in Jersusalem although a date has not yet 
been selected.  Lebedev noted that Putin has agreed to visit 
Israel in 2010. 

5.  (C) Rosenblit said both sides blamed the economic crisis 
for the decrease in bilateral trade in 2009 which affected 
Israeli imports of both raw diamonds and petrochemicals. 
Both sides are looking for ways to diversify trade to include 
more agricultural products.  Rosenblit noted that Russia was 
very interested in attracting Israeli investment, citing a 
bilateral agreement on industrial research and development 
which gives both governments the ability to finance joint 
start-ups. 

6.  (C) Elaborating on economics issues, Rosenblit said that 
Netanyahu and Putin discussed energy issues.  Rosenblit said 
that Israel had discussed with Russia and Turkey the 
possibility of extending to Israel a gas pipeline but this 
proposal became unnecessary after Israel found offshore gas 
reserves in Haifa.  Although Gazprom is still interested in 
building facilities in Haifa and aiding in distribution, 
Rosenblit said this was now a question for the private 
sector.   Rosenblit also claimed that an agreement was 
reached to launch a bilateral agricultural business forum in 
Moscow, possibly in March 2010.  This would also be a private 
effort, but under governmental auspices.  He also said that 
there was some discussion about future outer space 
cooperation for peaceful purposes. 

7.  (C) Rosenblit claimed that the 65th anniversary of World 
War II and Holocaust remembrance were high on the agenda.  He 
said that both the GOI and the GOR are unhappy with recent 
attempts to revise the history of these events.  He noted 
that a Holocaust Museum will be built in Russia and a 
commemorative site recognizing the Red Army's role in WWII 
will be constructed in Israel.  Rosenblit also said that PM 
Putin invited President Peres to the May 9 Victory Day 
ceremonies in Moscow later this year.  Medevedev also 
reportedly green lighted the idea of a cultural program 
including a "Year of Russia in Israel" and "Year of Israel in 
Russia" exchange. 

------------------------------------------- 
Middle East Peace Not High on Either Agenda 
------------------------------------------- 

8.  (C) According to Rosenblit, MEPP was not thoroughly 
discussed and he "doubted that the Moscow Conference 
specifically was mentioned."  Rosenblit also downplayed the 

MOSCOW 00000392  002 OF 003 

recent visits of Abbas and Meshaal and the importance 
attached to them by the Russians.  He said that he believed 
Georgia was of greater importance to Russia than Syria, 
Lebanon or Palestine. 

9. (C) Rosenblit said that Netanyahu emphasized his openness 
to talks between the GOR and the Palestinians because he 
welcomed any way to bring them back to negotiations.  "We 
wanted everyone to tell Abbas to return to negotiations 
because we can't give him a deal until he sits down."  He 
noted that Israel prefers direct contacts but supports any 
kind of negotiations.  Rosenblit said that Israel still 
insists on talks without preconditions and no interim 
agreements: "Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed." 
Rosenblit said that Israel supported Russia's efforts to 
achieve comprehensive negotiations including Syria and 
Lebanon. 

10.  (C) Referring to the recent visit to Moscow of Khaled 
Meshaal, Netanyahu told his interlocutors that Hamas should 
not be legitimized by other countries.  Although Meshaal had 
only a 15 minute meeting with Lavrov, it received significant 
coverage in the media.  Rosenblit said Medvedev asked what 
Russia could do to help with Hamas.  Netanyahu repeated that 
Israel does not see Hamas as a legitimate partner but would 
use the Russia-Hamas channel to discuss humanitarian issues 
such as the proposed prisoner swap for IDF soldier Gilad 
Shalit. 

------------------------ 
Closer than Ever on Iran 
------------------------ 

11. (C) Lebedov sought to downplay discussions of Iran saying 
that, while it was discussed, other bilateral issues took up 
most of the discussions. 

12. (C) Rosenblit, however, claimed that Iran was clearly at 
the top of Israel's agenda for this visit.  He said Netanyahu 
was "keen to form a group of like-minded parties" who 
recognized the danger of Iran's program and would cooperate 
to stop its "militant nuclearlization."  Netanyahu emphasized 
that Israel believes that once Iran has nuclear capabilities, 
other regional powers will immediately seek their own nuclear 
weapons.  Because of this danger, and the threat from Tehran 
itself, Netanyahu urged Russia to cooperate on tougher 
sanctions against Iran. 

13. (C) The Israeli side, according to Rosenblit, was 
pleasantly surprised at Russia's harsh tone on Iran which had 
changed dramatically even since FM Lieberman's visit in 
November.  "We heard words from them that we've never heard 
before," Rosenblit claimed, "and we aren't hearing the same 
old arguments."  Rosenblit credited this change to the 
Iranians themselves, saying that their rejection of the TRR 
proposal and their decision to enrich to 20 percent had 
toughened Russia's stance on Iran.  He remarked that just a 
few months ago, there was concern in Israel that Iran would 
divide the international community, but Iran's actions have 
only served as a unifying factor. "Russia's understanding of 
the Iranian nuclear issue is closer to ours than it was a few 
months ago." 

-------------------------- 
Ready to Discuss Sanctions 
-------------------------- 

14.  (C) On the issue of sanctions, Netanyahu reportedly 
handed the GOR a list of areas where Israel felt sanctions 
could affect change in Iran's behavior.  The list included 
restrictions on Iranian exports of energy products; Iranian 
imports of refined petroleum products; the financial and 
banking sectors; and, shipping and aerospace companies.  He 
noted that, while Russia was ready to discuss sanctions, the 
two did not necessarily see eye to eye on the specifics. 
Both sides did agree, however, that the UNSC had to agree on 
sanctions.  Rosenblit said that Russian officials do not 
believe that unilateral sanctions will have the desired 
effect.  They believe that the international community has to 
maintain united and either agree to impose or not impose 
sanctions. 

15.  (C) Netanyahu encouraged Russia to be an example for 
China regarding sanctions.  Rosenblit said both Israel and 
Russia had been working bilaterally with China to convince 
them that it was time for a serious discussion on sanctions. 
--------------------------------------------- -- 
S-300s: No Quid Pro Quo, but We Trust Medevedev 
--------------------------------------------- -- 

MOSCOW 00000392  003 OF 003 

16.  (C) When asked about media reports citing Netanyahu 
himself which suggested that Israel had agreed not to restart 
arms deals with Georgia in exchange for Russia's continued 
inaction on the S-300s contract with Iran, Lebedov noted 
that, in spite of this statement, there had been no change in 
the GOR's policy.  He claimed that fulfillment of the S-300s 
contract remained a political decision.  He remarked that the 
S-300 system was itself defensive in nature and could not be 
used against another party, such as Israel. 

17.  (C) Rosenblit also would not acknowledge that a deal had 
been made.  Instead, he said that Netanyahu had reiterated 
his trust in Medvedev regarding the S-300s.  According to 
Rosenblit, Netanyahu believes that Russia has taken "all 
aspects of regional stability" into account when taking 
decisions on the S-300s.  Rosenblit did note that the S-300s 
issue offered a window onto the different vectors in Russian 
foreign policy, with the contradictory statements that their 
delivery was imminent, and the delay being caused by 
technical and political issues, coming just days before 
Netanyahu's visit. 

18.  (C) Rosenblit said that neither Russia nor Israel was 
linking the S-300 issue with arms sales to Georgia.  Israel, 
he claimed, as a Russian partner, was "listening attentively" 
to Russia's concerns about weapons supplies to Georgia and 
the effects this could have in the region.  Israel has 
friendly relations with Georgia but the Russian relationship 
was also very important, he said.  He indicated that both 
sides were trying to come to an "understanding." 

19.  (C) Comment: The Russian media built up the Prime 
Minster's visit as the final stage of Russia's 
Abbas-Meshaal-Netanyahu trifecta of Middle East callers. 
While both sides paid lip-service to MEPP issues, Iran was 
the main agenda item.  This reflects Netanyahu's priorities 
and the GOR's belief that it is Washington's job, not 
Moscow's, to pressure the Israelis on MEPP issues.  Israel 
came away pleased with Russia's changed posture on Iran, but 
disappointed that its list of sanctions was too ambitious for 
the GOR.  Separately, the widely reported "quid-pro-quo" on a 
mutual freeze of the Russian S-300 delivery for Iran and 
Israeli military sales to Georgia could be a convenient 
Israeli invention.  While Israeli contacts say there is no 
formal deal, Netanyahu's statements to the media created 
enough speculation to put Russia in a corner.  Should Moscow 
eventually deliver the system to Iran, Israel has a pretext 
to step up arms sales to Georgia. 
Beyrle

http://cablegate.wikileaks.org/cable/2010/02/10MOSCOW392.html

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 BAKU 000134 

SIPDIS 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/24/2020 
TAGS: PREL PHUM MARR ETRD AJ AM RS IR TU
SUBJECT: AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENT TO U/S BURNS:  "YOU CAN'T 
BOIL TWO HEADS IN ONE POT" 

Classified By: Charge Donald Lu, for reasons 1.4 (b,d). 

 1.  (C) Summary:  President Aliyev used this coarse street 
slang to describe the relationship between Russian President 
Medvedev and PM Putin, but he might well have used the same 
idiom to describe his concerns about Turkey-Armenia 
reconciliation and the Nagorno-Karabakh (NK) Peace Process. 
He told U/S Burns that the "Sword of Damocles" of the April 
24 Armenian Remembrance Day is hanging over the NK Process, 
as well as the Turkey-Armenia normalization process.  He 
suggested that it would be easier if the Turkey-Armenia 
normalization could be considered after April in order to 
allow more time for progress on NK.  He also took the 
opportunity to press the USG to apply maximum pressure on 
Yerevan to make concessions on NK.  He stressed, "Now we are 
trying to be even more flexible." 

2.  (C) Summary Continued:  On Iran, President Aliyev said he 
supported economic isolation and believed it could be 
effective if enforced by a broad coalition.  He complained 
about Iranian security provocations.  On a proposed 
battalion-sized Afghanistan contribution, Aliyev said that he 
would support sending a team to Georgia to observe the 
training being provided by EUCOM to Georgian troops headed 
for Afghanistan.  On energy cooperation, President Aliyev 
said that if the Turks demonstrate "constructive behavior" 
this year that a gas transit deal can happen.  Finally, on 
the jailed youth activists, though he made no firm 
commitments regarding their release, he said, "I think (a 
pardon or amnesty) can be done.  I had no intention to hurt 
anyone."  End Summary. 

Seeks Pressure on Yerevan to Resolve NK 
--------------------------------------- 

3.  (C) Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Bill 
Burns began his hour-long meeting with President Ilham Aliyev 
by stressing that he was sent with the simple message that 
Washington wants to build our bilateral relations and create 
a stronger partnership.  He then offered his condolences for 
the three Azeri soldiers killed on the Line of Contact on 
February 18.  Aliyev responded that such events show that 
there is no peace, no peace treaty and no peacekeepers 
enforcing the cease-fire.  He worried more such incidents 
could happen.  Burns commented that such incidents 
underscored the urgency of finding a political solution on 
Nagorno-Karabakh. 

4.  (C) The balance of Aliyev,s comments sought to convey 
that he was ready to move forward in the Minsk Group Process, 
but that international pressure would be needed if Armenia 
was to move forward.  He said that it is now time to find a 
final resolution, but Armenian President Sargsian wants to 
walk away from the process.  "I told the co-chairs that 
Armenia wants to delay as long as possible and escape at the 
end.""  He said that Azerbaijan was prepared to do its part 
to propel the talks forward.  "Now we will try to be even 
more flexible." 

5.  (C) Aliyev outlined several steps to persuade Armenia to 
agree to the Minsk Group Basic Principles: 

-- the three co-chair countries should consolidate their 
efforts at a senior-level, 

-- (C) the three co-chair countries should send a strong 
message that the independence of NK is not under review, and 

-- (C) if these new proposals are not accepted, there should 
be consequences in terms of international isolation, 
especially in the form of Russia,s curtailing some of its 
economic support for Armenia. 

6.  (C) Aliyev noted that at Sochi, President Sargsian had 
inserted a proposal for specifying a definite date for a 
referendum or plebiscite on NK final status.  This, Aliyev 
argued, undermined the entire framework of the agreement, 
which is premised on an eventual referendum ) with no 
definite timeframe ) in exchange for legalizing "the 
illegally established regime in NK.""  He also noted that 
Armenia is vulnerable to isolation because it is dependent 
upon remittances from its diaspora, as well as imports of gas 
and electricity.  "After 18 years of negotiation, we have 
tested all options.  If this phase (of Minsk Group talks) 
ends, what is next?" the President asked aloud. 

The Russian Role in NK and Russian Succession 

BAKU 00000134  002 OF 004 

--------------------------------------------- 

7.  (C) In response to U/S Burns' question about the Russian 
role in the NK talks, Aliyev responded that he was convinced 
that Medvedev's efforts have been sincere.  He said that 
Medvedev has personally met with the Azerbaijani and Armenian 
presidents five times.  Thus any failure to make progress on 
this issue will damage Medvedev's credibility.  He said that 
at Sochi, Medvedev tried to persuade Sargsian to achieve a 
breakthrough.  He added, however, that it was strange that 
with so much pressure from Moscow and Lavrov's visit to 
Yeveran, the Armenians not only resisted progress, but 
actually backtracked on previously-agreed items.  In response 
to a question, Aliyev said that he believes that PM Putin has 
his own separate opinion about the desirability of an NK 
resolution.  "I have no evidence, but I can feel this," 
Aliyev remarked. 

8.  (C) Aliyev said that he considers Medvedev "a modern, 
new-generation intellectual," surrounded by people whom he 
does not control.  He said that he has personally witnessed 
Medvedev taking decisions that then required further approval 
before they were implemented, referring specifically to a 
border demarcation agreement that he had agreed with Medvedev 
only to have it stymied by ""others,"" presumably in the 
prime ministerial office.  He added, "Many high-ranking 
officials don't recognize (Medvedev) as a leader."  He said 
that there are signs of a strong confrontation between the 
teams of the two men, although not yet between Putin and 
Medvedev personally.  "We have a saying in Azeri, 'Two heads 
cannot be boiled in one pot'" (crude street slang suggesting 
that two leaders are spoiling for a fight). 

Strong Pushback on the Turkey-Armenia Normalization 
--------------------------------------------- ------- 

9.  (C) U/S Burns stressed that the U.S. believes that 
progress on the Turkey-Armenia protocols could create 
political space for Sargsian to be more flexible on NK.  He 
continued that the reverse was also true, that a failure of 
the Turkey-Armenia process would almost certainly result in 
serious negative consequences for the NK process.  Aliyev 
said that NK progress would require a minimum of five or six 
months.  He suggested that the entire Turkey-Armenia protocol 
ratification process be delayed until after April 24.  He 
said that the "Sword of Damocles" of Armenian Remembrance Day 
is hanging unhelpfully not only over the Turkey-Armenia 
process, but also now the NK progress.  "If there were no 
deadline, maybe we could see how to combine our efforts (to 
resolve NK)." 

10.  (C) Aliyev pushed back with his usual warnings about the 
negative effects of Turkey-Armenia protocol ratification 
without being proceeded by NK progress.  He darkly predicted 
postponement of any NK settlement; no comprehensive regional 
security improvement; damage to Turkey-Azerbaijani relations; 
no real partnership between Turkey and Armenia; further 
isolation of Central Asia; the undermining of energy 
projects; and damage to Georgia, both in lost transit income, 
but also in its role as the sole land corridor between Russia 
and Armenia. 

Relations with Iran Described as Tense and Unstable 
--------------------------------------------- ------ 

11.  (C) U/S Burns explained in detail the steps the U.S. had 
taken to initiate dialogue with Tehran and support the Tehran 
Research Reactor initiative.  He ended by noting that, given 
the rejection of these overtures, the U.S. would move forward 
with another UNSC resolution that included new sanctions 
targeting the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.  Aliyev 
responded that although the visible side of Azerbaijan's 
relations with Iran appears normal, the substance was very 
different.  "I do not exclude that relations will be become 
more difficult," the President added. 

12.  (C) "(German Chancellor) Merkel was very firm with me on 
Iran, trying to persuade me.  I told her, 'No need,'" the 
President recalled.  He said that he was supportive of Iran's 
economic isolation and believed it could work if the 
international community worked together.  He said that 
earlier sanctions observance had been spotty with many 
European energy companies working in Iran.  "Statoil supports 
Iran more than it supports us!" he complained.  He noted that 
Russian President Medvedev once told him that Russia did not 
want the Americans to squeeze Iran, but also did not want a 
nuclear Iran. 

BAKU 00000134  003 OF 004 

13.  (C) Aliyev said that Iranian provocations in Azerbaijan 
were on the rise.  He specifically cited not only the 
financing of radical Islamic groups and Hezbollah terrorists, 
but also: 

-- the Iranian financing of violent Ashura ceremonies in 
Nakhchivan, 

-- the organization of demonstrations in front of the Azeri 
consulates in Tabriz and Istanbul, 

-- a violent religious procession recently in Baku, 

-- the use of the President's photo alongside the Star of 
David on the Azeri-language Seher TV broadcast into 
Azerbaijan, and 

-- conflict in the Caspian. 

14.  (C) The President added that Azerbaijan will not 
reciprocate on the liberalization of the visa regime with 
Iran.  He also noted that Azerbaijan is planning to create a 
TV channel in Persian that will broadcast into Iran.  He said 
that he did not understand why the Supreme Religious Leader 
chose Ahmadinejad over former President Moussavi.  He joked 
that perhaps it was too dangerous to have two ethnic Azeris 
at the head of the Iranian state.  He said that the election 
fraud was outrageous, with Ahmadinejad winning in 
Azeri-dominated Tabriz and Moussavi winning in Tehran, where 
it was harder to falsify the vote.  He viewed the situation 
as very tense within Iran and believed it could erupt at any 
time. 

Supports Afghanistan Troop Contribution, with Conditions 
--------------------------------------------- ----------- 

15.  (C) U/S Burns asked for the President's support to 
continue our discussions about a battalion-sized contribution 
of troops to Afghanistan that would include a U.S. train and 
equip program.  The President said that he is aware of this 
initiative and his foreign and defense ministries are working 
on it.  He said that the fundamental problem is one of 
""optics,""  claiming it was difficult for him politically if 
it looks like the Americans are only training Azeri troops to 
send them off to Afghanistan.  He said that it would be 
easier if half of those trained would be sent to Afghanistan, 
while the second half would remain in Azerbaijan or be used 
for other purposes.  U/S Burns noted that the President's 
suggestion would create problems involving the U.S. funding 
of the training.  The Charge proposed that as an initial 
step, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Defense Ministry staff 
observe the training of Georgian troops headed to Afghanistan 
by U.S. Marines.  The President thought this was a good idea 
and instructed his aide to look at this suggestion. 

Pardon or Amnesty of the Youth Activists "Can be Done" 
--------------------------------------------- --------- 

16.  (C) U/S Burns said that one of the ways Azerbaijan could 
show leadership as a tolerant and secular country was in 
advancing democracy and human rights.  He specifically asked 
that, following the appeal process of the two youth 
activists, the President find a way on humanitarian grounds 
to release the two men.  Aliyev made no firm commitment, but 
responded, "I think this can be done.  I had no intention to 
hurt anyone."  When U/S Burns expressed the hope that the 
government could quietly take this step, the President said, 
"Okay." 

Russians are a Factor in Turkish Gas Transit 
-------------------------------------------- 

17.  (C) On energy cooperation, President Aliyev said that if 
the Turks demonstrate "constructive behavior" this year that 
a gas transit deal can happen.  He was clear, however, that 
nothing would be signed before April 24.  He also professed 
to be worried that active Turkish-Russian cooperation could 
be one of the impediments to progress.  He confided that 
Turkish Energy Minister Yildiz recently told the head the 
Azerbaijani State Oil Company, "Why do you want to ruin our 
relations with Russia?  Do you really need Nabucco?" 

18.  (C) The President continued that it is imperative for 
Azerbaijan that formalities for the commencement of Shah 
Deniz Phase II gas development begin this year.  This project 
will bring $20 billion in much-needed investment to 
Azerbaijan and potentially develop Azerbaijan into a major 
source of new gas, as much as 50 billion cubic meters. 

BAKU 00000134  004 OF 004 

19.  (C) Unprompted by U/S Burns, Aliyev spelled out the 
reasons Azerbaijan decided to sell gas to Russia last year, 
noting that ""Moscow had asked" and offered a good price for 
gas that was surplus anyway.  But the real reason, Aliyev 
confided, was that the sale illustrated to "our Turkish 
friends" that they will not be allowed to create a gas 
distribution hub.  "Aliyev made clear his distaste for the 
Erdogan government in Turkey, underscoring the "naivete" of 
their foreign policy and the failure of their initiatives, 
including the loss of support for Turkey among traditional 
international friends because of Ankara,s hostility to 
Israel.  He noted that in his view, there had never been any 
merit to the notion of a "moderate Islamist" government in 
Turkey, and that Erdogan,s insistence on promoting Hamas and 
Gaza ) when other Arab countries were notably silent on 
these issues ) had brought Turkey no benefits. 

20.  (U) Lastly, U/S Burns asked for the President's 
assistance in resolving the long-standing difficulties in 
finalizing the lease for the new Embassy compound.  The 
President responded positively that he thought this could be 
done. 

21.  (U) U/S Burns was accompanied by EUR Deputy Assistant 
Secretary Amb. Tina Kaidanow, NSC Director Bridget Brink, and 
Charge.  President Aliyev was joined by his Foreign Policy 
Advisor Novruz Mammadov. 

22.  (U) This message has been cleared by U/S Burns. 
LU

http://cablegate.wikileaks.org/cable/2010/02/10BAKU134.html

C O N F I D E N T I A L MOSCOW 002529 

SIPDIS 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/05/2019 
TAGS: PREL PGOV MARR RS IR AF UP GG
SUBJECT: ASD/ISA VERSHBOW'S SEPTEMBER 30 VISIT TO MOSCOW: 
BILATERAL COOPERATION, IRAN, AFGHANISTAN, MISSILE DEFENSE, 
MILITARY/DEFENSE COOPERATION 

Classified By: Political Minister Counselor Susan Elliott for 
reasons 1.4 (b), (d) 

1.  (C) SUMMARY:  During consultations with GOR officials on 
September 30, Assistant Secretary of Defense (ASD) for 
International Security Affairs Alexander Vershbow discussed 
ways to implement bilateral cooperation in a number of key 
areas of mutual interest.  Both sides praised progress since 
the "reset" in U.S.-Russian relations during the first 
Obama-Medvedev meetings, though both agreed that concrete 
actions are necessary to realize true cooperation.  ASD 
Vershbow emphasized that the reset needs to be reciprocal and 
noted that Iran would be a critical test case.  Both sides 
expressed interest in further cooperation on Afghanistan, 
especially in the sphere of counternarcotics.  While the 
Administration's missile defense announcement has met with a 
generally positive reaction in the Russian media, Duma and 
Security Council representatives made clear they had 
questions about the later phases of the new U.S. plan and 
questioned whether the U.S. would be prepared for cooperation 
going beyond information exchange.   Russian interlocutors 
acknowledged the dangers posed by Iran's nuclear program, but 
stressed Moscow's skepticism about sanctions.  Throughout the 
meetings, ASD Vershbow emphasized that Russia's efforts to 
assert a regional sphere of influence posed a threat to the 
reset in bilateral relations, and reiterated the U.S. 
commitment to the sovereignty, independence, and territorial 
integrity of Georgia, Ukraine and other partners in the 
region.  END SUMMARY. 

2.  (C) OVERVIEW OF MEETINGS:  ASD Vershbow met with the 
following GOR officials:  Viktor Mikhaylovich Zavarzin 
(Defense Committee Chairman of the State Duma), Aleksandr A. 
Gorbunov (Chief of the Main Directorate for International 
Military Cooperation of the Ministry of Defense), General 
Yuriy Nikolayevich Baluyevskiy (Deputy Secretary of the 
Security Council and former Chief of Defense), Aleksey 
Nikolayevich Borodavkin (Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs), 
and Grigoriy Borisovich Karasin (First Deputy Minister of 
Foreign Affairs and State Secretary).  He also met informally 
with academic experts and pundits and gave an interview to 
Interfax. 

--------------------------------------------- --- 
U.S.-RUSSIAN COOPERATION -- WORDS ARE NOT ENOUGH 
--------------------------------------------- --- 

3.  (C) At all meetings, ASD Vershbow and his Russian 
interlocutors noted that U.S.-Russia relations since the 
"reset" have been moving in the right direction, with 
opportunities for increased bilateral cooperation in areas of 
mutual interest.  The Bilateral Presidential Commission and 
associated working groups will be useful to inject momentum 
into our work.  However, ASD Vershbow stressed that words 
alone or mere information exchanges are not enough, and the 
reset must be reciprocal.  Both sides need to take action to 
implement agreements already concluded and to pave the way 
for additional areas of work and to identify concrete 
projects for cooperation.  Mechanisms for enabling these 
efforts need to be established (e.g., the Ministry of Defense 
is currently undergoing a major organizational reform, which 
has hampered efforts for implementing the previously approved 
2009 military-to-military work plan, and both sides need to 
ensure that planned events are conducted). 

4.  (C) ASD Vershbow agreed that next steps must be taken in 
other areas where we have agreed to cooperate previously 
(e.g., implementing a ballistic missile joint threat 
assessment, a Joint Data Exchange Center, and the lethal 
transit overflight in support of efforts in Afghanistan that 
was agreed to at the July summit).  The U.S. and Russia must 
be united in addressing common threats, such as the nuclear 
and ballistic missile programs of Iran and North Korea. 

5.  (C) During his meeting with MOD International Military 
Cooperation Chief Gorbunov, ASD Vershbow emphasized that 
transparency should be a major aspect of cooperation. 
Vershbow observed that DoD has been very open with the 
Russians about sensitive issues.  For example, DoD has shared 
information about efforts to help prepare Georgian troops for 
deployment to Afghanistan in support of ISAF efforts; 
however, the Russians have not reciprocated in this vein 
(e.g., their Zapad 2009 and Ladoga exercises). 

6.  (C) Both Duma Defense Committee Chair Zavarzin and 
Security Council Deputy Secretary Baluyevskiy stressed that 
they are ready to work on all areas of mutual interest on the 
BILATERAL COOPERATION, IRAN, AFGHANISTAN, MISSILE DEFENSE, 
MILITARY/DEFENSE COOPERATION 

condition that Russia's voice be heard.  In particular, 
Zavarzin cited the NATO-Russia Permanent Joint Council 
(1997-2002) in which Russia claims its views were ignored, 
the NATO-Russia Council (the PJC's successor) in which Russia 
"still did not have a full say," and Russia's interest in 
working on anti-missile defense since 2000 which "did not pan 
out."  ASD Vershbow acknowledged that both NATO and Russia 
bore responsibility for areas where cooperation was not 
successful, but suggested that we need to look ahead rather 
than debate the past. 

--------------------------------------------- ------ 
RUSSIAN DEFENSE MINISTRY REFORM POSES CHALLENGES TO 
MIL-TO-MIL COOPERATION 
--------------------------------------------- ------ 

7.  (C) The Russian Ministry of Defense (MOD) is in the midst 
of major reform.  International Military Cooperation Chief 
Gorbunov described the main goal of the reform as the 
creation of the "most effective military force in the world," 
despite existing limitations (e.g., demographics, large 
landmass and borders, resources, and various threats along 
the borders).  He identified two distinct processes as part 
of the reform -- building of the armed forces and control of 
the forces.  Today, Russia is focusing on building the 
forces, including a large influx of civilian personnel in 
management and specialist roles, improving pay/benefits of 
service members, improving quality of equipment, and trying 
to change decision-making processes at all levels.  Gorbunov 
emphasized that these changes are intended to make Russia a 
strong competitor, but also a reliable partner. 

8.  (C) Gorbunov explained that the reform process is having 
a significant impact on the Main Directorate for 
International Military Cooperation (GUMVS) at the MOD.  The 
Foreign Liaison Directorate (UVS) is being closed on October 
1, and a new International Liaison Directorate is being 
created.  Because of these changes, correspondence will be 
slow over the next six weeks or so, which will impact the 
Attache Corps in Moscow.  Gorbunov offered his personal 
assistance during this period. 

9.  (C) ASD Vershbow raised the Bilateral Defense 
Consultations (BDC) which the U.S. had proposed for November, 
and suggested the possibility of a broader dialogue between 
the MOD and DoD on policy and strategy issues to complement 
State-MFA exchanges.  Vershbow explained that DoD's proposed 
BDC topics (including confidence-building measures and 
transparency, risk reduction and notification procedures, 
expanded military technical cooperation, etc.) were carefully 
considered, but we welcomed Russia's suggestions for 
additional topics.   Gorbunov responded that the MoD agrees 
with the general notion of the BDC, but stipulated that the 
General Staff needs to identify the right experts to address 
topics to be discussed, and they plan to propose other topics 
for consideration.  He gave no indication as to when a 
response would be provided. 

--------------------------------------------- -------------- 

AFGHANISTAN:  NARCO-TRAFFICKING, TERRORISM, ILLICIT FINANCE 
--------------------------------------------- -------------- 

10.  (C) ASD Vershbow's meetings with Deputy Foreign Minister 
Borodavkin and MOD International Cooperation Chief Gorbunov 
particularly focused on Afghanistan.  Borodavkin mentioned 
that Russia views Afghanistan not only as a threat, but as an 
opportunity for cooperation with the U.S. and other countries 
(e.g., NATO), and suggested that ISAF could play an important 
role in fighting illegal drug trafficking.  He recalled that 
the U.S. and NATO had participated in the March 2009 
conference held in Moscow at which counternarcotics was a top 
priority. 

11.  (C) When asked by Borodavkin about whether more U.S. 
troops will be sent to Afghanistan, ASD Vershbow explained 
that General McChrystal's assessment is being reviewed at the 
highest levels.  He noted that while the situation in 
Afghanistan has not gone as well as hoped over the past six 
months, the U.S. cannot allow the Taliban to regain control. 
Expansion and training of the Afghan National Security Forces 
(ANSF), improving governance, and economic assistance are all 
still essential components of the U.S. strategy in 
Afghanistan and we will continue to seek cooperation in these 
areas. 

12.  (C) Borodavkin introduced a number of proposals for 
increased Russian contribution.  He said that Russia would 
like to launch cooperation with the U.S. on the economic 
rehabilitation of Afghanistan and referred to a clause in the 
July Summit Joint Statement that without economic 
improvement, terrorism and other threats cannot be 
eliminated.  Borodavkin suggested tripartite cooperation 
(Russia-U.S.-Afghanistan) to reconstruct the Soviet-era 
Salang Tunnel to provide a much needed reliable 
transportation route.  The Russians have already undertaken a 
technical study on this project and Borodavkin said that with 
adequate resources, it would be a useful cooperative effort. 
(Note:  Borodavkin's staff confirmed that the MFA has 
submitted a proposal to the State Department on the Salang 
Tunnel.) 

13.  (C) Russia considers narco-trafficking to be its highest 
priority vis-a-vis Afghanistan.  Borodavkin said Russia is 
ready to help the Afghan National Police (ANP) and Interior 
Ministry in these efforts.  He noted that Russia is already 
providing counternarcotics training to the Afghans at the 
Domodedovo Center, and mentioned Russian counter-narcotics 
chief Ivanov's statement that he is ready to provide 
increased assistance on bilateral and multilateral levels 
such as NATO and the OSCE.   Both Borodovkin and Vershbow 
agreed that while the U.S. and Russia are currently working 
together on this and the related issue of threat financing 
through the Bilateral Presidential Commission, we need to 
address these problems more forcefully.  Illicit financing 
has been raised at Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) 
and OSCE meetings, offering one area of possible cooperation. 

14.  (C) At his meetings at the MOD and MFA, ASD Vershbow 
expressed appreciation for Russia's expression of interest in 
providing weapons and equipment to the ANSF, and requested 
that any such help be made in the form of donations with no 
fees attached, as those charges would have to be paid for by 
the U.S.  He underscored that some of the equipment/weapon 
donation requests provided to Russia are intended to support 
counter-narcotics efforts, so the U.S. hopes Russia will be 
able to provide this support.  ASD Vershbow also asked that 
Russia work with the Combined Security Transition Command - 
Afghanistan (CSTC-A) to ensure that ANSF priority 
requirements are met and provided a list of requirements. 

15.  (C) Borodavkin said that Russia will be able to supply 
limited numbers of weapons to the ANP as aid and will 
consider selling more weapons to the ANP and the Afghan 
National Army (ANA).  He also expressed concern that there 
are unlicensed (counterfeit) Russian weapons on the market, 
which are of inferior quality.  Gorbunov explained that 
donating equipment and weapons to Afghanistan is a 
presidential decision, which would entail President Medvedev 
asking the military services to donate items from current 
stocks. 

16.  (C) Borodavkin also asked ASD Vershbow's perspectives on 
the European proposal for a conference on Afghanistan after 
the new Afghan government is established.  ASD Vershbow said 
the U.S. saw merit in this idea as a means of seeking 
additional international support for Afghanistan, but noted 
that the timing of the initiative will depend on 
Afghanistan's domestic politics; given the problems with the 
Presidential elections, conditions were not yet right. 

17.  (C) Borodavkin mentioned the work of the Afghanistan 
sub-working group under the Bilateral Presidential Commission 
and stated that the Foreign Ministry is hoping that Amb. 
Holbrooke can reschedule his planned visit to Moscow. 
Borodavkin requested that ASD Vershbow pass on the invitation 
to Amb. Holbrooke. 

18.  (C) ASD Vershbow also raised the lethal transit 
agreement signed at the July summit in his meetings with 
Gorbunov, Borodavkin, and Zavarzin.  He underscored the 
importance of a timely Duma decision now that the General 
Authorization has been delivered.  ASD Vershbow expressed 
hopes that the inaugural flight of the agreement could take 
place prior to Secretary of State Clinton's visit to Moscow 
on October 12-14.  Zavarzin thought the Duma would approve 
the agreement without any problem; Borodavkin confirmed that 
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is working on the request, 
but warned that they do not have the sole voice on this 
matter. 

--------------------------------------------- 
MISSILE DEFENSE DECISION:  NEITHER CONCESSION 

NOR THREAT TO RUSSIA 
--------------------------------------------- 

19.  (C) ASD Vershbow discussed the recent U.S. missile 
defense decision during each of his consultations.  In his 
meeting with Duma Defense Committee Chairman Zavarzin, ASD 
Vershbow observed that the Russian press may have been overly 
positive in its assessment of the September 17 announcement, 
focusing on the cancellation of the Program of Record rather 
than the new MD architecture.  While the new phased adaptive 
approach to MD does not pose a threat to Russia, there will 
likely continue to be missile defense elements in 
central-eastern Europe, with an SM-3 site in Poland if the 
Government of Poland agrees.  However, the physical 
characteristics of the new system are different from the old, 
and the U.S. believes Russia has no basis for concern that 
the system could threaten its strategic forces.  The new 
architecture will be more effective and be able to provide 
protection to vulnerable parts of Europe more quickly. 
Vershbow emphasized that the U.S. intends to be open about 
the new architecture, citing information available through 
congressional testimony and other open sources.  The U.S. aim 
is to make this a project for NATO because the system is 
designed to protect all of NATO's territory (starting in 
southeastern Europe, where the current threat is, but 
eventually covering all of NATO). 

20.  (C) ASD Vershbow affirmed the U.S. also views missile 
defense as an opportunity for cooperation with Russia against 
a common threat, noting Secretary of Defense Gates' support 
for cooperation on missile defense.  Vershbow emphasized to 
Zavarzin and Security Council Deputy Secretary Baluyevskiy 
that we should begin by implementing the Joint Data Exchange 
Center (JDEC), on which the Russians had postponed a decision 
until after the U.S. missile defense announcement.  Vershbow 
told Zavarzin and Baluyevskiy that linking radars could 
follow, which could then lead to broader areas of cooperation 
that could be implemented either bilaterally or within the 
NATO-Russia Council (NRC) framework.  He suggested that U.S. 
and Russian experts explore concrete ways to implement 
military technical cooperation, noting that such cooperation 
would be mutually beneficial and would send a strong signal 
to Iran that could help in resolving the nuclear issue. 

21.  (C) Zavarzin acknowledged that the Russian political 
elite has no illusions about missile defense and understands 
this was a U.S. decision with no quid pro quo expected from 
Russia.  Security Council Deputy Secretary Baluyevskiy noted 
that the system's planned capability to intercept ICBMs does 
raise some of the same concerns Russia has had before. 
Zavarzin agreed that we need to identify specific projects to 
work on together, but that Russia wants to ensure its voice 
will be heard.  Both Zavarzin and Baluyevskiy stressed the 
need to develop bilateral cooperation methods, potentially by 
linking existing U.S. and Russian early warning systems to 
gather and share information about threats.  They also asked 
whether the U.S. was prepared to go even farther, to include 
joint technology projects, which would of greater interest to 
Russia than information exchange. 

--------------------------- 
U.S.-RUSSIAN UNITY ON IRAN? 
--------------------------- 

22.  (C) ASD Vershbow discussed the serious test that Iran's 
nuclear program will pose to both Russia and the U.S. in the 
coming months, noting that our interests coincide in many 
ways, even if they are not identical.  The U.S., he stated, 
wants to see if diplomacy can succeed, but we need to be 
realistic and be prepared for tougher measures if diplomacy 
fails.  Citing the recently exposed covert nuclear facility 
and the recent missile tests, Vershbow described the 
situation as urgent, and said that the U.S. was encouraged by 
President Medvedev's recent comment that sanctions might 
become necessary. 

23.  (C) ASD Vershbow mentioned that the Islamic world is 
very concerned about Iran's nuclear program (e.g., several of 
its Arab neighbors have asked the U.S. for Patriot missiles 
and other measures to protect them against Iranian attack). 
The ability of the U.S. and Russia to work together on the 
Iran challenge over the next few months will be just as 
important as our work on missile defense will be over the 
next few years.  ASD Vershbow stressed that if we fail to 
stop Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons, we could have a 
"volatile, possibly explosive," situation in the Middle East. 

24.  (C) In their respective meetings, Duma Defense Committee 
Chairman Zavarzin and Security Council Deputy Secretary 
Baluyevskiy agreed that Iran is a concern, but said that 
Russia continues to work closely with them and that sanctions 
cannot be pursued until after diplomatic efforts have been 
made.  Deputy Foreign Minister Borodavkin expressed concern 
that sanctions could be ineffective (citing past experience 
in Iraq) and could have a negative impact on the wider 
Islamic world. 

---------------------------------------- 
RUSSIA'S "SPHERE OF PRIVILEGED INTEREST" 
---------------------------------------- 

25.  (C) ASD Vershbow stated in several meetings that our 
interaction in the post-Soviet space continues to be a 
sensitive issue and, if not handled carefully, could 
undermine recent gains in bilateral relations.  In this 
regard, President Medvedev's proposed amendment to the law on 
use of Russian forces overseas has raised many questions. 
Duma Defense Committee Chairman Zavarzin said that Russia 
will not interfere with the U.S. as it engages with nations 
in the region, and that there is no cause for concern 
regarding the legislation about use of Russian forces -- it 
is intended to protect Russian citizens living in those 
countries and that other countries have similar provisions. 

26.  (C) UKRAINE:  ASD Vershbow spoke of his visit to Ukraine 
immediately preceding his arrival in Moscow, and cited 
Ukrainian concerns about Russian respect for Ukraine's 
sovereignty and borders.  Vershbow stated that the U.S. 
continues to support the 1994 Budapest Memorandum on Security 
Assurances and Ukraine's freedom to choose its security 
relationships, and encourages Russia to reaffirm its 
adherence as well.  He suggested that President Medvedev's 
open letter to Ukraine had been counter-productive.  The U.S. 
favors close and mutually beneficial Russian-Ukrainian 
relations -- this is not a zero-sum game. 

27.  (C) Deputy Foreign Minister Karasin said that Ukraine is 
Russia's closest neighbor, and is a "key partner" in 
international activities.  Russia is not trying to influence 
Ukraine, but wants a stable Ukraine and a secure 
neighborhood.  He also said that Russia cannot ignore 
attempts to depict it as a major threat to Ukraine.  Foreign 
Minister Lavrov will be visiting Ukraine this week to meet 
with Ukrainian Acting Foreign Minister Khandogiy and there 
even is a possibility that Medvedev and Ukrainian President 
Yushchenko will meet at a summit of CIS countries shortly 
after that.  Karasin said that Russia wants to deal with 
Ukraine in a normal way and that Ukrainian citizens are the 
ones to decide what they want. 

28.  (C) GEORGIA:  Security Council Deputy Secretary 
Baluyevskiy, Zavarzin, and Karasin asked why the U.S. is 
providing military assistance to Georgia when it threatens 
stability in the Caucasus region.  This causes concern and 
Russia cannot allow renewed aggression against Abkhazia and 
South Ossetia.  ASD Vershbow explained that as a matter of 
principle, the U.S. will help Georgia protect its sovereignty 
and independence, but stated that the U.S. is not rearming 
Georgia, as Russia has repeatedly alleged.  Since the August 
2008 war, there has been no U.S. lethal assistance to 
Georgia; DoD funds were transferred to the State Department 
for humanitarian purposes.  In the short term, the U.S. is 
proceeding with great care and focusing on training, 
education, and helping prepare Georgia to participate in 
Afghanistan under the command of U.S. Forces.  At the same 
time, Georgia is a sovereign state with the right to 
self-defense.  We do not accept any arms embargo, and we may 
provide weapons to Georgia in the future. 

29.  (C) Zavarzin made a point of saying that Russia does not 
dispute Georgia's sovereignty, but it cannot allow new acts 
of aggression; a regional consensus is necessary.  Karasin 
said that, in Russia's view, the current Georgian leadership 
is irresponsible.  ASD Vershbow reiterated that the U.S. had 
made clear to Georgia that there is no military option 
regarding Abkhazia and South Ossetia and that the Georgians 
need to take a long view on reintegration of the territories. 
 Karasin noted some successes in repairing relations since 
last August, including the Geneva talks that enable the 
Georgians to talk directly to the Abkhaz and Ossetians. 
Vershbow said that stability in the Caucasus and creating 
conditions to help improve Georgian-Russian relations is very 
important to the U.S. 

30.  (C) Karasin mentioned the EU independent report on the 
August 2008 conflict in Georgia, which had just been released 
on the afternoon of September 30.  ASD Vershbow mentioned 
that he looked forward to reading the report and stressed 
that even if we do not agree completely on the report's 
findings, we need to look ahead and promote stability in the 
region, including an international presence in the 
territories.  Karasin said that international presence in 
Abkhazia and South Ossetia must be discussed with the Abkhaz 
and the Ossetians (not the Russians).  Russia has "bilateral 
agreements" with them, and Russian border guards are 
protecting them to help restore stability. 

31.  (C) Karasin asked whether the U.S. intends to establish 
a military presence in Georgia by contributing personnel to 
the EU Monitoring Mission (EUMM).  This would be a serious 
problem for Russia, as they believe it would send the wrong 
message to President Saakashvili that he could use force 
again.  ASD Vershbow said there has been lots of speculation 
on this subject that was not based on fact.  If the EUMM did 
make such a request in the future, the U.S. would consider 
it, but this would likely involve civilian monitors. 
Vershbow added that Russia needs to fully withdraw its forces 
from positions beyond the line of the outbreak of hostility, 
per the Medvedev-Sarkozy agreement, since this non-compliance 
was a continuing source of tension.  Karasin insisted that 

Russia was in compliance, while acknowledging that the U.S. 
does not see it that way. 

------------ 
OTHER ISSUES 
------------ 

32.  (C) EUROPEAN SECURITY TREATY:  In response to 
Baluyevskiy's inquiry about President Medvedev's proposed 
European Security Treaty, ASD Vershbow acknowledged there 
could be ways to improve the effectiveness of existing 
conflict-prevention mechanisms, but that the U.S. and most of 
our allies did not see a need for new structures or a new 
treaty.  However, the U.S. is ready to engage with Russia on 
this issue in the Corfu process and other fora. 

33.  (C) CENTRAL ASIA:  Karasin inquired about the Manas 
Transit Center and the numbers of U.S. military personnel 
that would be deployed under the new arrangement.  ASD 
Vershbow said that he did not have precise figures.  However, 
in contrast with the previous agreement, security for the 
facility is now being provided by the Kyrgyz, which reduced 
the U.S. presence somewhat. 

34.  (U) ASD Vershbow has cleared this cable. 
Beyrle

http://cablegate.wikileaks.org/cable/2009/10/09MOSCOW2529.html

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