Wikileaks: US Not Rearming Georgia

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


E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/05/2019 

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 

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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 

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. 

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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. 

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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 

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 

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 

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 

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 



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. 


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. 


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. 


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. 

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 05 MOSCOW 001111 


E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/29/2019 

Classified By: Ambassador John R. Beyrle for reasons 1.4(b) and (d) 

1. (S) Summary.  Foreign Minister Lavrov told visiting Codel 
Levin April 15 that arms control issues were Russia's top 
priority.  Noting that Moscow was waiting for concrete 
proposals, including specific language, from the U.S. on a 
post-START treaty agreement, Lavrov said he recognized that 
the U.S. would not want to address the link between offensive 
and defensive weapons in the post-START negotiations, but it 
would be important to have such a dialogue in the future. 
Russia was interested in developing a joint missile defense 
system (MD) with the U.S., but we should start "from 
scratch," with joint threat assessments, determination of 
necessary resources, and best location for MD assets.  Lavrov 
rejected a quid pro quo in which the U.S. would discontinue 
its MD plans for eastern Europe in exchange for Russia 
pressuring Iran to end its nuclear weapons program, 
emphasizing that each issue should be considered separately. 
He acknowledged that Moscow was concerned about Iran's 
longer-range missile development and said Russia would be 
prepared to undertake a "dual-track" approach towards Iran's 
nuclear program; offering incentives to Tehran, but keeping 
in reserve measures within the Agreed Framework.  He 
reconfirmed that Moscow had suspended the sale of S-300's to 
Iran "for the moment."  In a follow-on meeting, DFM Sergey 
Ryabkov stressed that while Russia was interested in working 
with the U.S. on MD, it would be difficult for Russia to join 
a U.S. MD effort that included sites in Poland and the Czech 
Republic, and urged that if the U.S. intended to pursue sites 
in Europe, they should be further west and south, so as to 
diminish the effect on Russian capabilities.  Ryabkov 
emphasized that "no one can deliver Iran to the U.S., except 
the U.S. itself," and argued that, while the S-300 sale was 
"frozen," the "less Moscow heard from Washington about it, 
the better."  End summary. 

2. (C) In a meeting with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in 
Moscow April 15, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services 
Committee, Carl Levin (D-MI), together with SASC members Bill 
Nelson (D-FL) and Susan Collins (R-ME) emphasized that they 
were united in their hope that the U.S. and Russia could 
strengthen their cooperation to address common challenges. 
Noting the Senate's Constitutional role in ratifying treaties 
and providing advice and recommendations on foreign policy 
issues to the President, Senator Levin raised missile defense 
(MD) as an issue that had divided the two countries, but 
should unite them.  He suggested that if Russia and the U.S, 
could work together on MD, it would send a powerful message 
to those who might threaten us, including to Iran. 

3. (C) FM Lavrov welcomed the Senators' visit, and noted that 
it was timely, coming two weeks after the first meeting 
between Presidents Obama and Medvedev.  He highlighted the 
important role "Parliaments" play in building constructive 
relationships and expressed the hope that the U.S. and Russia 
could overcome the "inertia" that had characterized the 
relationship in the past. 

Arms Control, NPT 

4. (C) Lavrov said that arms control issues were Russia's top 
priority.  The U.S.-Russia agenda was positive, even though 
we had differences.  Moscow hoped the U.S. Administration 
would submit the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty for 
ratification, and would reconsider sending the "123" 
Agreement to the Hill.  He welcomed President Obama's remarks 
supporting nuclear weapons reductions, saying that such 
reductions were not just a matter of security for the U.S. 
and Russia, but carried a political message that would be 
important for the 2010 review of the Non-Proliferation Treaty 
(NPT).  While characterizing the elimination of nuclear 
weapons as "a noble goal," Lavrov said it was not "an 
immediate project."  We needed to have some clear proposals, 
which would give others a clear idea of the way forward.  He 
suggested that the next stage after the post-START 
negotiations should consider how to engage others, such as 
the UK, in discussions of further reductions, as well as 
looking at tactical nuclear weapons. 

5. (C) There was "a lot to do" on non-proliferation issues, 
Lavrov said, including Iran and North Korea.  Pakistan was a 
concern, and we should think about engaging them as well as 
India and Israel.  The U.S. and Russia had cooperated to 

MOSCOW 00001111  002 OF 005 

address the danger of non-state actors acquiring nuclear 
material though programs such as the Global Initiative to 
Combat Nuclear Terrorism and UN Security Council Resolution 
1540.  The U.S. and Russia should also look at ways to 
strengthen the NPT regime, including how to universalize the 
Additional Protocol.  We should also work on issues like fuel 
supply, the Nuclear Fuel Center Russia had started, and 
programs like the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership. 


6. (C) Lavrov expressed appreciation for the Senate's 
confirmation of Rose Gottemoeller as A/S for VCI, noting that 
the U.S. and Russia had a lot of work to do to achieve a 
follow-on agreement to the START Treaty.  The issue would be 
discussed at the meeting between DVBR Director Anatoliy 
Antonov and A/S Gottemoeller in Rome on April 24, as well as 
in his meeting with the Secretary in Washington in May.  The 
teams would report to the Presidents in July, and hope to 
reach a framework agreement by the end of the year.  He said 
that while the Presidents in their statement April 1 had 
endorsed reductions below the Moscow Treaty limits and had 
agreed to use many of the verification procedures of the 
START Treaty, Moscow was waiting for more concrete proposals 
from the U.S., including specific language. 

7. (C) Lavrov highlighted the April 1 Joint Statement's 
reference to the link between offensive and defensive 
weapons, saying that the balance between the two that had 
existed in the Soviet Union had been thrown off kilter when 
the U.S. withdrew from the ABM Treaty.  He stressed that he 
recognized this did not mean the U.S. would support 
addressing the linkage during the post-START negotiations, 
but it was important to have a discussion on it at some point 
in the future. 

Missile Defense and Iran 

8. (C) Senator Levin said the SASC was interested in 
exploring the possibility of U.S. and Russia working together 
on MD.  The U.S. was focused on the threat from Iran, but he 
recognized that Russia may have a broader perspective. 
However, we were both opposed to a nuclear-armed Iran, which 
would be able to put pressure on other countries in the 
region.  The U.S. also perceived the possibility of an 
Iranian long-range missile as a threat.  He noted that press 
reports indicated that Medvedev had told Henry Kissinger and 
the Hart-Hagel Commission that he was concerned that the 
Iranian nuclear program was more of a threat than Russia had 
previously believed.  (Lavrov emphatically corrected this, 
saying Medvedev had expressed concern about Iran's missile 
launch).  Noting that the U.S. had made commitments to Poland 
and the Czech Republic, Senator Levin said the U.S. would 
need to consider how to keep those commitments and include 
Europe in a common MD program with Russia. 

9. (C) Agreeing that MD should unite the U.S. and Russia, 
rather than divide us, Lavrov said Russia was interested in 
developing a MD system with the U.S., but the U.S. proposals 
for an MD system in Poland and the Czech Republic ("3rd 
Site"), disrupted the balance between the U.S. and Russia's 
nuclear potential.  He stressed that then-President Putin's 
Kennebunkport proposal for a cooperative MD effort using 
Russian resources, joint analyses and determinations of the 
threat, and data exchange centers, was still on the table. 
He welcomed President Obama's statement that if the Iran 
nuclear issue were resolved satisfactorily, there would be 
less need for the 3rd Site, but took care to emphasize that 
Russia did not support a quid pro quo between Russia helping 
to get Iran to end its nuclear weapons program and the U.S. 
discontinuing its deployment in eastern Europe.  These two 
issues should be dealt with separately, on their own merits, 
Lavrov stressed. 

10. (C) Noting that the Congressional Budget Office had 
presented three alternatives on the MD project, Lavrov said 
this showed there were issues with the proposal.  Hastening 
to add that Russia did not endorse any of the three 
alternatives, Lavrov commended the Administration's intent to 
review them, noting this was the difference with the new 
Administration: it was willing to listen and take the time to 
analyze the alternatives, instead of saying "this is what 

MOSCOW 00001111  003 OF 005 

must be done; everyone must say yes sir." 

11. (C) In response to Senator's Levin question why Russia 
was not more concerned about Iran's missile capabilities, 
since Russia was closer to Iran, Lavrov said Moscow was "not 
complacent; we are closer."  But whenever Russian negotiators 
had protested to the U.S. side that the proposed radar could 
cover Russia up to the Urals and the interceptors could reach 
Russian territory, the U.S. response had simply been that the 
system "was not aimed at Russia."  As Medvedev and Putin had 
said, "when there is something risky on the ground, you need 
to take it into account."  Russia had warned it would need to 
take countermeasures if the 3rd site was deployed, and that 
it would put missiles in Kaliningrad.  Noting that Moscow 
would announce soon just how much it had withdrawn from 
Kaliningrad, Lavrov said he hoped the U.S. and Russia could 
find common ground on MD. 

12. (C) Lavrov cautioned that Russia did not perceive Iran in 
the same way as the U.S.  Iran for Russia was "much more than 
a country which might cause concern in the international 
community."  Russia opposed Iran getting a nuclear weapon, 
because Russia did not want any more "members of the nuclear 
club," but Iran and Russia were historical and traditional 
partners and neighbors, with a "rich bilateral agenda." 
Lavrov said he was certain Iran wanted to have a full nuclear 
fuel cycle and would negotiate from that basis.  It was 
unfortunate that the U.S. had not accepted the proposals a 
few years before when Iran only had 32 centrifuges; now they 
had over 5,000.  Nonetheless, Russia wanted Iran to cooperate 
fully with the IAEA and implement, and eventually ratify, the 
Additional Protocol.  As agreed to in the E3-plus-3 
statement, Russia wanted Iran to prove the peaceful nature of 
its nuclear program, in a verifiable way. 

13. (C) Lavrov commended the new U.S. approach to Iran, 
welcoming President Obama's readiness for the U.S. to engage 
"fully" in talks with Iran.  Willingness to discuss "all" the 
issues was a welcome step, and one which Russia had been 
advocating for several years, Lavrov said.  Iran wielded a 
lot of influence in the region, including on Afghanistan, 
Iraq, Hizbollah, Hamas, Gaza, etc.  Iran had long been 
concerned about Israel, and saw Pakistan as a nuclear-weapons 
competitor.  Putin had asked Ahmadinejad during a meeting in 
Tehran a few years before why he made such anti-Israeli 
statements, but Ahmadinejad had not responded, only saying 
that Iran was "not doing anything in the nuclear sphere 
different from Brazil."  Putin had replied that Brazil was 
not in the Middle East.  While Iran wanted to dominate the 
region and the Islamic world, which was of concern to Arab 
governments, the U.S. should realize that the "Arab Street" 
considers Iranian leaders to be heroes. 

14. (C) Noting that Russia was watching events in Iran 
closely, Lavrov said Moscow would be prepared to undertake 
the "dual-track approach," first offering incentives to Iran, 
but keeping in reserve measures within the Agreed Framework. 
The Administration's new approach "give us a much better 
chance than we had in the past.  We will do everything we can 
to make it work," Lavrov said. 

15. (C) Senator Nelson said he was encouraged by the FM's 
remarks, noting that it might be possible to consider 
cooperating on use of Russia's radars at Gabala and Armavir. 
He said he hoped Lavrov was right that Iran would be deterred 
from building a nuclear weapon, but he was skeptical.  The 
best deterrence might be for the U.S. and Russia to cooperate 
on MD. 

S-300 Sales 

16. (S) Senator Levin said that Russia had taken a practical 
and pragmatic step with the suspension of the sale of S-300 
missiles to Iran, Senator Levin said.  This helped make 
Israel less nervous, and sent a message to Iran that the U.S. 
and Russia were working more closely together on Iran issues. 
 Lavrov acknowledged that Russia was not supplying the system 
"for the moment," but reiterated the usual mantra that 
Russia's S-300 contract with Iran did not violate any 
international or national laws or arms control regimes, and 
that the S-300's were a defensive system only.  He added that 
nothing Russia had sold Iran had been used against anyone, 
whereas U.S. weapons provided to Georgia had been used 

MOSCOW 00001111  004 OF 005 

against Russian soldiers.  This did not mean the U.S. did not 
have the right to sell weapons to Georgia, but Moscow did not 
want a repeat of the August 2008 conflict.  Overall, he said, 
the Iranians had legitimate security concerns.  They had been 
attacked more than once by their neighbors, and saw 
Pakistan's nuclear status as "competition for regional 

17. (S) In a follow-on meeting with DFM Ryabkov, Senator 
Levin asked whether Iran believed the S-300 sale was canceled 
or just suspended.  Ryabkov replied that a contract existed, 
and it was impossible to break a contract without 
consequences.  He repeated that Moscow had taken U.S. and 
Israeli concerns into account, and at present Russia was not 
providing any components of the system to Teheran.  Thus, it 
was "obvious the degree to which Iran was dissatisfied with 
this," he said.  But, the contract was not canceled, it was 
merely "frozen," Ryabkov stressed.  He argued that "the less 
we hear from Washington about this, the better." 


18. (C) Senator Collins expressed appreciation for Russia's 
allowing transit of non-lethal equipment to ISAF in 
Afghanistan, and asked how the U.S. and Russia could work 
together to counter terrorism in Afghanistan and Pakistan. 
Lavrov said Pakistan was a place were "a lot of problems 
start for Afghanistan," and questioned the term "moderate 
Taliban."  He said the people on the UNSCR 1267 Committee 
list should be "blacklisted for as long as possible," but for 
anyone else, as long as they renounced terrorism, cooperated 
with the Kabul government, and refrained from extremist 
activity, it would be all right to deal with them. 

Ryabkov Meeting 

19. (C) In a follow-up meeting with DFM Ryabkov immediately 
afterwards, Ryabkov cited the non-paper Lavrov had given the 
Secretary in the Hague on March 31, and said there was 
already a good basis to cooperate with the U.S. on MD. 
Progress had been made in the NATO Russia Council on theater 
missile defense, and Moscow believed there was more that 
could be done there.  But he reiterated Lavrov's position 
that bilateral discussions would need to start from scratch. 
He disagreed with Senator Levin's statement that the system 
could not have a significant impact on Russia's nuclear 
capabilities.  He noted that Russia was more concerned about 
the radar than the interceptor sites, because the former 
could see the location of Russia's strategic forces, but even 
with the interceptors, nobody could predict what would be at 
those sites in 10 years' time.  In response to Senator's 
Levin's asking whether the deployments couldn't be limited by 
an agreement, Ryabkov acknowledged that was a possibility, 
but stressed that the radar could still be used with other 
U.S. MD assets.  The sites in Poland and the Czech Republic 
were part of a global MD architecture, which, when linked 
together, could almost "knock Russia out." 

20. (C) Ryabkov stressed that while the U.S. and Russia were 
not adversaries now, "intentions could change," whereas 
"capabilities" were much harder to change.  He noted that the 
countries in eastern Europe saw the 3rd site as more of a 
geo-political issue, bringing them closer to the West, than 
as a response to a potential threat from Iran.  "We are not 
in a zero-sum game and we do not want to use your possibly 
legitimate security concern as a geo-political pawn," Ryabkov 
argued.  Noting a link to the post-START negotiations, 
Ryabkov said the greater the reductions in number of warheads 
each side could possess, the more strategically important MD 
became.  He added that it would be politically difficult for 
Russia to join a U.S. MD effort that included sites in Poland 
and the Czech Republic.  If the U.S. intended to pursue sites 
in Europe, they should be further west and south, so as to 
diminish the effect on Russian capabilities. 

21. (C) In response to Senator Levin's question whether it 
would be possible to develop a joint radar system with 
Russian radars at Gabala, Armavir, and Moscow, connected to 
U.S. AEGIS and THAAD systems, Ryabkov responded that he had 
not considered such an idea before and would need to think 
about it.  Such a system, he noted, would become strategic, 
and would lack the X-band capability of the radar proposed 

MOSCOW 00001111  005 OF 005 

for the Czech Republic, since all the systems cited were 
early-warning radars only, but it could be an option. 

22. (C) Ryabkov said Russia hoped it would be possible to 
have a "meaningful dialogue" with Iran, and noted that 
President Obama's remarks had had a strong impact in Teheran 
and the Arab world.  But it was still difficult to predict 
how Teheran would react.  He characterized the P5-plus 1 
(E3-plus-3) statement as "very promising," but claimed 
experience showed Iran would not make concessions under 
pressure.  He emphasized that it was "very clear that no one 
can deliver Iran to the U.S., except the U.S. itself." 

Civilian Space Cooperation 

23. (C) In response to Senator Nelson's question about 
prospects for increased civilian space cooperation and what 
would happen when the U.S. was fully dependent on the Soyuz 
spacecraft to reach the International Space Station, Ryabkov 
said he saw no difficulty with meeting the U.S.'s needs, and 
said we should both be forward-leaning.  He noted that 
RosCosmos had suggested to NASA that Russia cooperate on 
development of the U.S.'s new spacecraft, but the idea had 
not been pursued.  Ryabkov proposed we discuss the issue 
further with RosCosmos and said Moscow favored closer 
cooperation with the U.S. and Europe in this area.  While it 
was not linked to MD, the more progress we could make on MD, 
the better able we would be to move forward on other issues. 

24. (U) Codel Levin did not clear this cable. 


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