Wikileaks: Mistral Sale Could Destabilize Black Sea

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 002025

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/19/2019
TAGS: PREL PGOV MARR MOPS RS GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: MISTRAL SALE COULD DESTABILIZE BLACK SEA

REF: PARIS 1529

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

1. (C)  Summary and comment.  On November 13 and 16 Foreign
Minister Grigol Vashadze voiced serious concerns about the
potentially destabilizing influence of France's possible sale
of Mistral-class helicopter carrier ships to Russia (reftel)
to DAS Tina Kaidanow and the Ambassador.  As the broker of
the August 2008 ceasefire agreement with which Russia has
still not complied, France would not only provide Russia with
arms that its own officers admit would have helped them in
the war against Georgia, but would send a powerful signal
that NATO and the west are no longer concerned about Russia's
intentions.  At a time when Georgia faces a "silent embargo"
on arms shipments, other countries -- notably Spain and the
Netherlands -- await such a signal to begin their own sales
to Russia.  Such an opening of the floodgates could render an
already out-of-balance military confrontation even more
lopsided, allowing the Russians to assert themselves with
impunity -- and delivering the implicit message that the west
will not interfere.  Vashadze requested that the United
States push back against this sale and said President
Saakashvili would make the same request at more senior
levels.  We recommend doing so, in both Paris and Brussels --
or at the very least seeking a commitment from Russia that
these ships will not be deployed in the Black Sea.  End
summary and comment.

VASHADZE'S CONCERNS

2. (C) Foreign Minister Vashadze raised his concerns with us
about the sale twice, during a November 16 meeting with
Deputy Assistant Secretary Kaidanow and in a November 13
dinner with the Ambassador.  He registered several specific
objections.  First, the fact that it is France considering
the sale carries significant symbolic weight.  President
Sarkozy, representing the French presidency of the EU,
brokered the August 12, 2008 ceasefire agreement between
Georgia and Russia and effectively pledged the EU as the
guarantor of that agreement.  Point 5 of the agreement
requires Russia to withdraw its forces to those positions
held previous to the war -- a provision that Russia has not
complied with.  In fact, Russia has done the opposite,
increasing its military presence in both Abkhazia and South
Ossetia, and expanding its positions beyond their August 6,
2008 positions.  Thus, if France were to approve the sale of
any significant military equipment to Russia, it would
implicitly intimate that the broker of the ceasefire
agreement was satisfied either that Russia had complied with
those commitments, or that the commitments were no longer
binding.

3. (C) Second, Vashadze noted that the specific ship in
question represents a direct threat not only to Georgia, but
to the entire Black Sea region.  Third, the sale is being
contemplated in the context of what Vashadze called a "silent
embargo" against Georgia, making Georgia's attempts to
rethink its physical security even more difficult.   Russia
would improve substantially its ability to project military
power across the Black Sea littoral.  Finally, Vashadze said
that other countries -- notably Spain and the Netherlands --
were waiting for just such a sale from a major NATO ally to
open the door to their own arms sales to Russia.  A Mistral
sale would thereby open the floodgates to new procurements
Qsale would thereby open the floodgates to new procurements
for Russia -- procurements that could lead to even more
destabilizing steps in the Black Sea region.

PUBLIC DISCUSSION

4. (U) The newspaper 24 Saati (24 Hours) published a
front-page article November 18, written by a American analyst
based in Tbilisi, that registers strong protest against the
proposed sale.  Calling the sale potentially the "biggest
ever NATO country military supply to Russia," the article
notes that quotes Russian Navy Commander Admiral Vladimir
Vysotskiy as saying in September that "In the conflict in
August last year a ship like that would have allowed the
Black Sea Fleet to accomplish its mission in 40 minutes, not
26 hours, which is how long it took us."

COMMENT:  THE WRONG SHIP FROM THE WRONG COUNTRY AT THE WRONG
TIME

5. (C) Despite reassuring its people that Russia is not
likely to undertake further military action in the near
future, the Georgian Government privately is concerned by the
steady stream of aggressive Russian rhetoric.  The symbolism
of France, the broker of the ceasefire and a major NATO ally,

TBILISI 00002025  002 OF 002

taking this particular opportunity to make one of NATO's
biggest sales ever to Russia will not be missed in Moscow or
in Tbilisi.  Not only on the symbolic level is the sale
problematic; this type of ship will give Russia a new
capability to enforce, or threaten to enforce, its will in
the Black Sea.  This sale would render the already difficult
task of getting Russia to comply with its ceasefire
commitments nearly impossible, and it would potentially
increase the militarization of, and instability in, the Black
Sea region.  Although Georgia, despite the introduction of
vastly increased Russian military forces into its territory,
has so far refrained from actively rearming itself, the
acquisition by Russia of such a ship could exacerbate public
fears and virtually force Georgia to seek ways to prepare to
respond.  The United States should take steps to discourage
this sale, i Paris and Brussels, or at the very least impose
appropriate conditions on the sale -- such as firm
commitments from Russia that the ships will not be deployed
in the Black Sea -- that would put any Russian assertions
about overall capabilities, versus their intentions in this
region, to the test.
BASS
http://wikileaks.ch/cable/2009/11/09TBILISI2025.html

 

Advertisements

Wikileaks: Saakashivili warns US Russia is preparing to dismember Georgia

Tuesday, 26 June 2007, 07:54
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 PARIS 002725
SIPDIS
SIPDIS
DEPT FOR P(BAME) AND EUR
EO 12958 DECL: 01/01/2017
TAGS PRELFR“>FR, NATO, EUN, GG, UNMIK, YIRS“>RS, UNO
SUBJECT: U/S BURNS’S JUNE 13 MEETING WITH GEORGIAN
PRESIDENT SAAKASHVILI
REF: TBILISI 1387
Classified By: Ambassador Craig R. Stapleton for reasons 1.4 (B & D).

1. (U) June 13, 2007, 11:00 A.M.

2. (U) Participants:

U.S. Under Secretary Burns Special Envoy for Kosovo Wisner Ambassador Stapleton P Staff Bame POL Deputy Turner (notetaker)

Georgia President Saakashvili Foreign Minister Bezhuashvili Ambassador to France Kudava Chief of Cabinet Sharashidze Daniel Kunin

3. (C) SUMMARY: In a June 13 meeting with Georgian President Saakashvili, U/S Burns confirmed that we would move forward on Kosovo independence, but assured him we would remain firm in discouraging Russia from taking action to recognize Abkhazia’s independence. Saakashvili insisted that Putin was personally committed to removing Abkhazia from Georgia. He worried that Russia would attempt to use any Kosovo UNSCR, especially one sweetened to gain Russia’s abstention, as a precedent/justification for Abkhazia. Burns assured Saakashvili that any Russian move to recognize Abkhazia would isolate Russia internationally and urged the Georgians to continue to avoid antagonizing them. Saakashvili said the Georgians were doing their part but that Russia could not be trusted; he urged the USG to make clear to the Russians that the Caucasus was a powder keg. He also called for NATO MAP for Georgia as soon as possible as a “deterrent” against Russian adventurism. Burns assured Saakashvili of U.S. support for Georgian aspirations while noting that timing (the December 2007 NATO FM Ministerial, or the April 2008 NATO Summit, or even later) would depend also on building support among European Allies. Saakashvili concluded by stressing the strategic importance of Abkhazia for Georgia and of the Black Sea for Georgia and Ukraine. END SUMMARY.

KOSOVO INDEPENDENCE

——————-

4. (C) Burns noted at the outset President Bush’s strong stance on Kosovo, in private and in public, during his recent visit to Pristina and Sofia. Burns said the President had made clear to President Putin at the G8 Summit that Kosovo would become independent. Russia could perhaps delay this outcome, but it could not stop it. The UN had already taken Kosovo away from Serbia, and it was the Europeans and U.S., not the Russians, who had troops on the ground to keep the peace and were providing financial assistance. Burns termed the Russian threat to recognize Abkhazia in retaliation for Western recognition of Kosovo hollow, given that other members of the international community would not follow (with the possible exception of Belarus; Saakashvili suggested that only Venezuela would support Russia). Burns and Wisner reiterated that Secretary Rice had made clear to Putin and FM Lavrov that it would be a grave mistake to recognize Abkhazia.

IMPACT ON ABKHAZIA

——————

5. (C) Saakashvili worried about the implications for Georgia of Kosovo independence and related that Putin, in the course of a recent fifty-minute bilateral meeting, had invited Georgia to coordinate with Russia on a response to the U.S. position on Kosovo. Continuing that Putin had a highly personal interest in Abkhazia, Saakashvili claimed that Putin had recalled Russian diplomats in Georgia to prepare documents on Abkhazia. This had led to some strange proposals, including a Russian proposal at the last CIS summit that Georgia approach the IOC to host the Olympic games in Abkhazia. More seriously, a Russian move to recognize Abkhazia risked setting off a powder keg in the Caucasus. Georgia was not interested in provoking the Russians, but emotions were high. The Russians, who only understood frank language, would interpret any flexibility from others as weakness. They needed to be told that they risked setting off an explosion in their own backyard that

PARIS 00002725 002 OF 004

could easily redound against them.

6. (C) Saakashvili asked if there were quid pro quos other than Abkhazia that Russia was seeking for Kosovo independence. Burns said that the U.S. was currently focused on finding ways to encourage a Russian abstention, for instance through the eventual appointment of a UN envoy for Serbian refugee affairs or extending negotiations between the Serbs and Albanians for another 3-5 months. The USG was willing to meet the Russians half-way, provided the end result would be independence. Wisner added that the USG was not proposing a division between Kosovo’s Serbian and Kosovar Albanian communities. Saakashvili said it was important that “nothing” in any eventual Kosovo decision be viewed as a precedent for other conflicts; nor did Georgia want to be associated with the process in any way. He worried that Russia would use any negotiations on an amended UNSCR to insert language that could later be cited as justification for its actions on Abkhazia. Burns reiterated the U.S. position that the record of UN involvement in Kosovo put it exactly opposite from the situation in Abkhazia.

EU DYNAMICS, FRENCH PROPOSAL

—————————-

7. (C) Saakashvili asserted that Putin had promised him to veto Kosovo independence. Burns responded that Putin had stopped short of using the word “veto” in his discussions with the President; Wisner pointed out that the Russians had been careful in their language, saying they were “ready” to veto “this” resolution (as opposed to another one). Burns commented that the Europeans in general were “too” obsessed with the threat of a Russian veto, mainly because of the divisions it would likely engender within the EU itself. For instance, Slovakia and Greece had said they would oppose recognizing Kosovo’s independence. Burns reviewed his meetings with French officials in Paris and other aspects of the state of play on Kosovo.

8. (C) Picking up on an earlier comment by Burns that Kosovo was 95 percent ethnic Kosovar Albanian, Saakashvili noted that 500,000 ethnic Georgians had been forced out of Abkhazia. He asked how the USG and others would respond to possible Russian parallel demands for an international presence aimed at postponing until some point in the future a decision on independence for Abkhazia. He urged Burns to reject such arguments out of hand, given that the Russians were responsible for the war in Abkhazia and that this was a merely a stratagem to re-absorb their lost empire piece by piece. They had recovered Chechnya and would like to recover Georgia; failing success on the latter, they would take Abkhazia.

RUSSIAN DESIGNS ON ABKHAZIA

—————————

9. (C) Wisner responded that breaking off Abkhazia would call into question the consensual break-up of the former Soviet Union. He urged Tbilisi not to make the same mistake as Belgrade had in refusing to engage, and encouraged the Georgians to have informal contacts with the Abkhaz. Saakashvili responded that the Abkhaz were refusing contact with the GOG, were fully under the control of the Russian FSB, and were already effectively isolated. Georgia’s best hope was to develop economically and internationally in a way to show the Abkhaz that they would be better off associating themselves with Georgia rather than the Russians. For the moment, however, Georgia had little leverage. He noted ominously that Putin had once spoken of a possible negotiated solution to Abkhazia, but no longer mentioned it as a possibility.

10. (C) Saakashvili asserted that Putin had originally bet on regime change in Georgia, but that this had failed. His current plan was therefore to use Abkhazia to destroy Georgia. This also served Russia’s broader interest in interrupting any alternative energy corridors in the Caucasus. Saakashvili indicated, in contrast to Abkhazia, that the Russians had given up playing the South Ossetia card against Georgia. Putin had told him that he did not care about South Ossetia, so long as Georgia avoided bloodshed and solved the problem quietly. The downside was that this left Abkhazia as Russia’s last bargaining chip.

U.S. SUPPORT AND NATO MAP

————————-

11. (C) Commenting that Putin viewed the U.S. as his main

PARIS 00002725 003 OF 004

competitor and surmising that Putin wanted his legacy to be one of toughness, Saakashvili said only blunt language from the U.S. could force Putin to modify his “reckless” behavior and realize what was at stake for Russia. He saw a need for two specific “deterrents” in dealing with Russia: 1) the U.S., supported by the Europeans, should on a regular, perhaps monthly basis, warn the Russians against recognizing Abkhazia; and 2) the Russians needed to be told that Russia stood to lose more in any destabilization of the former Soviet space than others. With respect to NATO, Saakashvili stressed that Georgia viewed the conclusion of a Membership Action Plan (MAP) as less a promise for early membership than a key deterrent against Russian adventurism.

12. (C) Burns noted that the issue of when precisely to offer MAP to Georgia was complicated. It would be difficult to ask the Europeans to agree on MAP at the same time they were managing the Kosovo problem. If Kosovo could be put to bed in the early fall, then the December NATO ministerial or following April NATO Summit might be used to push forward on MAP. He advised the Georgians to work quietly and to build more support among European nations through reforms designed to show that Georgia was ready for MAP. Although the U.S. approach viewed the process strategically, the Germans and French were hesitant and afraid to irk Russia.

13. (C) Saakashvili worried that if a decision were postponed until the Bucharest Summit, Allies might be reluctant to displease the recently elected new Russian president. He thought that Secretary Rice would need to make a personal push on Georgia’s behalf in European capitals. Burns reminded Saakashvili that the Bucharest Summit also needed to take decisions on the Adriatic Three (Croatia, Albania, and Macedonia), as well as on Ukraine. Burns stated that USG decisions on timing for Georgia would depend on when we could succeed in lining up support among key Allies Germany, France, Italy, Spain and the UK. Saakashvili expressed the hope that there would be no crisis with Russia in the fall, which he called a doomsday scenario. He noted ominously that the Russians mentioned Cyprus a lot, suggesting the possibility of a military adventure.

GEORGIAN REFORMS CAN HELP

————————-

14. (C) Burns reiterated the importance of reform in persuading European Allies to support MAP for Georgia, highlighting judicial reforms and free elections. Saakashvili responded that Georgia was working on them and would succeed in achieving them. That said, he predicted that the Europeans would then seek some new excuse to deny Georgia its due.

MANAGING RUSSIA

—————

15. (C) Burns asked Saakashvili for his views on Russia’s CFE-related Istanbul commitments. Without responding directly, Saakashvili said Moldovan President Veronin had told him that he no longer expected the Russians to do anything about Transnistria to resolve the problem, and he would now approach the Europeans for more assistance. Saakashvili nonetheless believed that Russia could eventually be brought to deal on Moldova, as with South Ossetia, if not Abkhazia. Putin was emotionally attached to Sochi and viewed Abkhazia’s location as strategic; it had a deep sea port and 900 million barrels of oil on shore, with untold quantities potentially available offshore. The only thing still holding Putin back from recognizing Abkhazia was his fear of the United States, not the Europeans. The USG needed to be tough with Putin, and would need to neutralize European accommodationist tendencies vis-a-vis Russia. Burns responded that sentiment in the Congress was negative toward Russia, but that the President was attempting to strike a balance, cooperating with Russia on counter-terrorism and non-proliferation while criticizing it for lack of press and other freedoms, and for its recent harassment of Estonia.

GEORGIA NOT PROVOKING RUSSIA

—————————-

16. (C) Burns suggested it was also important that Russia not be able to cite perceived Georgian provocations as grounds for its actions. Saakashvili assured him that Georgia knew how to be patient, citing the quiet Georgian reaction to a recent unidentified attack on Georgian territory most likely perpetrated by Russian forces. Saying that “time works for us, but we should also be given time,”

PARIS 00002725 004 OF 004

he assured Burns that Georgia’s preference was for reformers rather than generals, and that even the Russians were fascinated by the pace and breadth of Georgian reforms. Unfortunately, the Russian goal was to kill reforms — for themselves and others. In a brief discussion of Estonia, Saakashvili commented that Estonian leaders had appeared to be panicking under the pressure. Georgia had seen worse, he added, but would succeed in remaining calm only to a point.

STRATEGIC IMPORTANCE OF ABKHAZIA, BLACK SEA

——————————————-

17. (C) Saakashvili stressed the strategic importance of Abkhazia to Georgia, noting that re-integration of the province had the potential to triple the Georgian economy. The loss of Abkhazia, by contrast, would destroy the backbone of Georgia. Ascribing to Russia a Black Sea strategy, he expressed concern that the USG was underestimating the importance of the Black Sea. Burns agreed that Allies had thus far shown insufficient interest in the region, but that that this was one of the reasons NATO had chosen Bucharest for its 2008 summit. Saakashvili commented that the Turks in particular had wanted to keep NATO out and preserve their own influence, and opined that a greater Western political and military presence in the Black Sea region would deter Russia and bolster Georgia and Ukraine. By contrast, a Turkish incursion into Iraq would only encourage the Russians to follow that example. Burns informed Saakashvili of USG efforts to counter the PKK problem in northern Iraq, Turkey, and elsewhere.

MEETING WITH SARKOZY

——————–

18. (C) Saakashvili concluded the meeting with a request for advice in dealing with President Sarkozy. Ambassador Stapleton and Wisner described Sarkozy as a plain speaker who should be engaged directly and bluntly. They also noted his skepticism about Russian intentions. They welcomed Saakashvili’s decision to meet with him so early in his Administration, as he would likely prove to be a key, perhaps even the dominant, European leader. Burns encouraged Saakashvili to brief Sarkozy on his assessments of Turkey and Russia. Saakashvili agreed that Sarkozy’s decision to meet with him was an important gesture.

Please visit Paris’ Classified Website at: http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/paris/index.c fm

STAPLETON

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/us-embassy-cables-documents/113393

 

Wikileaks: Russian Active Measures in Georgia

Friday, 20 July 2007, 12:10
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 TBILISI 001732
SIPDIS
SIPDIS
DEPT FOR EUR DAS BRYZA AND EUR/CARC
EO 12958 DECL: 06/19/2017
TAGS PRELPGOVGG
SUBJECT: RUSSIAN ACTIVE MEASURES IN GEORGIA
REF: A. TBILISI 1605 B. TBILISI 1352 C. TBILISI 1100 D. 06 TBILISI 2601 E. 06 TBILISI 2590 F. 06 TBILISI 2425 G. 06 TBILISI 2390 H. 06 TBILISI 1532 I. 06 STATE 80908 J. 06 TBILISI 1064 K. 06 TBILISI 0619 L. 06 TBILISI 0397 M. 06 MOSCOW 0546 N. 06 TBILISI 0140 O. 05 TBILISI 3171
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft for reasons 1.4 (b)&(d).

Introduction and Comment

————————

1. (C) The strains between Russia and Georgia play out in leaders’ statements, the Russian economic embargo, the separatist conflicts, and a number of other public ways, but they also play out on a level that is at least slightly below the surface: Russian “active measures” (or covert actions) aimed at Georgia. This cable summarizes some of the suspected Russian active measures undertaken in recent years, ranging from missile attacks and murder plots to a host of smaller-scale actions. It is a long list, and it is very much on the minds of Georgian leaders as they make decisions about how to deal with Moscow. For many of the suspected Russian activities, such as blowing up a Georgian police car or plotting to kill an opposition figure — or even the missile attack in Kodori in March — it is difficult to understand what the Russians hoped to gain that would be worth the risk of exposure. Georgian officials often tell us that Russia has set out on a policy of regime change in Georgia. No doubt the Russians’ would like to see Saakashvili removed, but the variety and extent of the active measures suggests the deeper goal is turning Georgia from its Euroatlantic orientation back into the Russian fold. Even the smaller of the active measures serve this purpose by promoting a sense of instability, which the perpetrators may hope will scare off Georgia’s would-be European partners and/or provoke the Georgian leadership into a rash reaction that separates Georgia further from the West. As a high Russian FSB official reportedly told a Georgian counterpart recently, Russia’s goal is not Abkhazia or South Ossetia, but all of Georgia (ref C). While the Russians typically make some efforts to reduce their fingerprints on actions — making it hard to say with 100% certainty that they are responsible for many of them — the cumulative weight of the evidence of the last few years suggests that the Russians are aggressively playing a high-stakes, covert game, and they consider few if any holds barred. End Introduction and Comment.

Direct Military Attack

———————-

2. (C) Probably the most notorious recent incident was the missile attack on Georgian positions in the Upper Kodori Gorge on the night of May 11-12, 2007. As documented by a UN-led joint investigation, the attack included one or more helicopters that apparently fired a missile into the headquarters of the Georgian-backed “Government-in-Exile” of Abkhazia, as well as ground-fired missiles that struck near other targets in the area. UN investigators have told us privately that they agree with the Georgians that only Russia could have launched the attack, noting that while the final written report does not directly assign blame, “any reasonable person” would conclude from it that Russia was responsible (ref B). Russia did not make any serious effort to cooperate with the investigation, claiming its Caucasus radar systems were turned off at the time of the attack, leaving it with no records to share. Georgian officials strongly suspect that a subsequent violation of their airspace May 20 was a Russian attempt to plant false evidence regarding the ground-based firings, although in the end investigators did not visit the area in question.

3. (C) March 11 was not the first time the Russians were believed to have conducted a bombing raid on Georgian territory. Russian planes were widely believed to be responsible for a bombing of the Kodori in October 2001, and for bombings of the Pankisi Gorge, a Georgian area that borders Chechnya, in 2001 and 2002, drawing criticism from the USG and elsewhere in the international community, despite Russian denials of responsibility.

Murders and Attempted Murders

—————————–

TBILISI 00001732 002 OF 004

4. (U) On February 1, 2005 a bomb exploded in a car at the police station in Gori, the largest Georgian city close to South Ossetia, killing three Georgian police officers. Following an investigation, Georgian Minister of Internal Affairs Merabishvili said publicly that the bombing was masterminded by Russian military intelligence (GRU) officer Anatoly Sinitsyn (ref E), leader of the GRU team that was subsequently broken up in the September 2006 spy arrests (see paragraph 8).

5. (SBU) On June 8, 2006, neighbors approached a suspicious man loitering around the home of Koba Davitashvili, a leading opposition politician. The man fired two shots from a gun equipped with a silencer, slightly wounding one of the neighbors, and fled. He left behind a small bag that included a newspaper photo of Davitashvili and Russian cell phone company SIM cards. Following a Georgian investigation, Minister of Internal Affairs Merabishvili publicly identified the suspect as Giorgi Kurtaev, a Russian citizen who had been monitoring Davitashvili for several weeks, with one interruption for travel back to Russia. Following the June 8 incident Kurtaev fled again to Russia, from where Georgian officials unsuccessfully sought to extradite him. Georgian officials have stated publicly that the incident was a provocation perpetrated by a foreign intelligence service, and an attempt to discredit the Saakashvili government (ref H).

Sabotage

——–

6. (C) On January 22, 2006, near-simultaneous explosions in the Russian region of North Ossetia ripped into natural gas pipelines running from Russia into Georgia. Later that day, an explosion in the Karacheyevo-Cherkessia republic in Russia knocked out a high-voltage line supplying Georgia with electricity (ref M). The attacks immediately plunged Georgia into a major energy crisis, with virtually no ability to heat homes in the coldest part of winter. The Russian government claimed these were “terrorist” attacks, but Saakashvili repeatedly suggested the Russian government was responsible for the well-coordinated attacks in a heavily monitored part of the North Caucasus (ref N). This impression was further reinforced in Georgian minds by the fact that the gas magically resumed just as Armenia — which receives its gas through Georgia — was about to exhaust its reserves.

7. (C) In September 2006, the Georgian government arrested 29 activists of Igor Giorgadze’s Justice Party on charges of planning an explosion outside the headquarters of the ruling National Movement, intended to be the prelude to a coup. Evidence included seized bombmaking equipment, recorded conversations, and the testimony of ten witnesses. Giorgadze himself is a former Georgian Minister of Security believed to be living in Russia to avoid a Georgian warrant for his arrest in connection with a 1995 assassination attempt against then-President Shevardnadze. His Justice Party has never been popular in Georgia, and it was widely believed that the party was funded almost exclusively from Russia (refs F and G). It is interesting that one of the defendants, Maia Topuria, has hired two U.S.-based lawyers and a Washington law firm to lobby NATO and NATO capitals over alleged rule of law abuses with regard to the case.

Espionage

———

8. (SBU) Georgian authorities arrested four Russian military officers and eleven Georgians for espionage on September 27, 2006. The Georgian government subsequently released evidence collected over a long investigation, including video footage showing money being exchanged for documents, as well as audio tapes and transcripts of incriminating conversations between the Russian officers and their Georgian agents (ref D). According to the Georgian government, this Russian operation was conducted by the same GRU team responsible for the deadly Gori bombing in 2005. Georgia released the officers October 2, after which Russia cut air links to Georgia and began a campaign of deportation and harassment of Georgians living in Russia, reportedly resulting in four deaths of Georgian citizens.

9. (SBU) In April 2006, a pro-Kremlin television journalist in Moscow aired recorded cellphone conversations between Givi Targamadze, chair of the Georgian Parliament’s Defense Committee, and contacts in the Lithuanian MFA and in Washington, in which Targamadze is critical of Belarusian opposition leader Alexander Milinkevich. In one recording Targamadze appears to speak of having Milinkevich killed. It is widely believed in Georgian political circles that Russian electronic eavesdropping is ever-present; this case appears to confirm that suspicion, with the eavesdroppers apparently deciding that the conversations — perhaps doctored or

TBILISI 00001732 003 OF 004

selectively edited — were so embarrassing to Targamadze and Milinkevich that it was worth it to make them public.

Support for Separatists

———————–

10. (C) The Russian government has provided direct, if at times thinly veiled, support to the separatist regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, without informing or obtaining the consent of the Georgian government. In South Ossetia, many de facto cabinet ministers and advisors to Kokoity are Russian officials — in most cases believed to be FSB — serving a rotation in South Ossetia before returning to work in Russia. It is widely understood that Russia is paying, in full or in part, the salaries of police and other civil servants in South Ossetia — and that Russia recently increased these payments as a disincentive for South Ossetian officials to defect to the Georgian-backed temporary administrative unit of Dmitry Sanakoyev. The South Ossetians have reportedly received arms and equipment from Russia, including GRAD missiles, on various occasions, including during recent tensions (ref A). The Russians undertook a number of unilateral construction projects in South Ossetia in 2006 that they later claimed were in fulfillment of Russia’s pledge to the OSCE donors’ economic rehabilitation program, but in fact took place outside the donors’ program as well as in violation of a 2000 agreement on Georgian-Russian economic cooperation that calls for economic projects in coordination with all sides. Russia is widely reported to be working on projects to connect South Ossetia to Russian gas and telephone networks. Russia has distributed passports widely to residents of South Ossetia (and Abkhazia) to such an extent that Kokoity has claimed to USG officials that 95 percent of the population of South Ossetia is made up of dual Russian citizens (refs I and O).

11. (C) The de facto government of Abkhazia appears to have a somewhat greater degree of independence from Moscow than does its counterpart in South Ossetia; Russia is considered more aligned with the Abkhaz opposition led by de facto vice-president Khajimba, who despite Russian backing lost the 2004 presidential contest to current de facto president Bagapsh. Nevertheless, it is clear Russia has great leverage over Bagapsh, who frequently travels to Moscow for consultations, not to mention a trip to Moscow for emergency medical treatment in April — getting there, the Georgians tell us, on an FSB plane. Several sources have also told us that a senior FSB officer actually lives in a separate residence on Bagapsh’s presidential compound. An Abkhaz representative told the Ambassador in the fall of 2006 that Russia was at the time putting strong pressure on Bagapsh to attack the Georgians in response to their successful operation in July in the Upper Kodori Gorge. Georgian officials do not believe that the Abkhaz were aware of the March Kodori missile attacks in advance, but that the Abkhaz are required to accept the Russians’ use of their territory for such incidents. Russian peacekeepers in Abkhazia have committed — or permitted the Abkhaz to commit — repeated violations of existing agreements (ref L).

Support for Minority Extremists

——————————-

12. (C) Georgian officials in Tbilisi and Akhalkalaki, as well as local community leaders and political activists, have confirmed that the Russian government has funded radical ethnic-Armenian nationalists in Samtskhe-Javakheti in a bid to destabilize this mutli-ethnic, politically fragile region. Tensions peaked during spring 2006 when scattered violent demonstrations occurred in Akhalkalaki in March (ref K), following the murder of an ethnic Armenian in the city of Tsalka, and on May 2 (ref J), when protesters briefly halted

SIPDIS the first stage of Russian base withdrawal. As the withdrawal moved ahead, disturbances in Akhalkalaki dropped off precipitously, lending credence to Georgian allegations that the tensions were being stoked by elements operating from within the Russian base.

Disinformation

————–

13. (C) It is especially difficult to nail down the origin of any of the multitude of rumors, conspiracy theories, and political speculation in Georgia, but Georgian officials are convinced that Russian services are making an active effort to spread false information designed to undercut the Saakashvili government and to deflect responsibility for provocative actions away from Russia onto other alleged culprits. One particularly tangible example of disinformation serving Russian interests was a “Psychological Study” of Saakashvili widely disseminated by e-mail in January 2007 from an address purporting to be the “Georgian Association for Strategic and International Studies.” The study makes a number of highly prejudicial judgments about

TBILISI 00001732 004 OF 004

Saakashvili, and diagnoses him as suffering from an “expansive type of paranoid dysfunction…combined with narcissist type of hysteroid personality.” Post had never heard of the organization that distributed the study — many recipients likely confused it with the respected Georgian Foundation for Strategic and International Studies, which receives support from the U.S. Embassy — and a check of the Tbilisi street where it was supposedly located revealed that its address did not exist.

TEFFT

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/us-embassy-cables-documents/116089

 

Wikileaks – New Sarkozy-Medvedev Agreement: Questions Remain

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 04 MOSCOW 002701 

NOFORN 
SIPDIS 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/08/2018 
TAGS: PREL PGOV GG RS
SUBJECT: NEW SARKOZY-MEDVEDEV AGREEMENT: QUESTIONS REMAIN 

Classified By: Political Minister Counselor Alice G. Wells for reasons 
1.4(b) and (d) 

1. (S/NF) Summary: While achieving some key concessions 
from Russia on next steps in the Georgia conflict, the 
Sarkozy-Medvedev agreement from September 8 still leaves open 
questions about the nature and size of Russian troops, role 
of EU observers, and the format of October security talks. 
After contentious talks lasting four hours, the two sides 
reached agreement on the timing of the withdrawal of Russian 
forces from Georgia, international observer mechanisms, and 
the convening of an international conference on security and 
refugees for October 15 in Geneva. FM Lavrov called for 
South Ossetia and Abkhazia to participate in the security 
conference, and announced Russian troops would remain in 
those areas. Medvedev made clear that Russia would not 
reverse its recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. 
Medvedev and especially Putin remain defiant toward the U.S., 
with Deputy Chief of General Staff General Nogovitsyn 
alleging U.S. "complicity" in the armed conflict. Pundits 
claim the September 8 Sarkozy visit a victory for Russia, 
with the Sarkozy follow-on agreement likely to produce the 
Cyprus scenario the Russians say they are comfortable with. 
End Summary 

------------------ 
Tense negotiations 
------------------ 

2. (U) In their meeting September 8, Presidents Sarkozy and 
Medvedev discussed their August 12 six-point ceasefire 
agreement and agreed upon additional points in three areas. 

-- Withdrawal of troops. Within seven days, Russia will 
withdraw its troops from the observation posts between Poti 
and Senaki, while Russia will within 10 days following the 
deployment of "international mechanisms" withdraw its 
peacekeepers from the zones adjacent to South Ossetia and 
Abkhazia to pre-war positions. The document also calls for 
the complete return of Georgian armed forces to their bases 
by October 1, 2008. 

-- International observation mechanisms. Both the existing 
UN and OSCE observer missions will remain, while "at least 
200" EU monitors will be deployed by October 1, 2008 in the 
zones adjacent to South Ossetia and Abkhazia. 

-- International discussions. An international conference on 
Caucasus security will begin on October 15, 2008 in Geneva, 
devoted principally to security, refugees and internally 
displaced persons (IDPs). The GOR considers that this 
conference fulfills the requirements of point six of the 
Medvedev-Sarkozy plan of August 12, 2008, which calls for 
international discussions on security and stability 
arrangements. 

3. (S/NF) XXXXXXXXXXXX  told DCM that the  atmosphere
during the negotiations was quite charged and at  times became
openly hostile. Sarkozy at one point grabbed FM Lavrov by
the lapels and called him a liar in very strong  terms, reacting
to Lavrov's denial that Russia had failed to comply with its
previous withdrawal commitments.XXXXXXXXXX said that
Sarkozy had arrived with a "take it or leave it attitude, very
American in style and very confrontational,"  and the Russians
Had responded icily. Levitte played a central role in negotiating
the text with Prikhodko, who seemed to be under a lot of pressure
and in fairly bad  spirits. 

4. (S/NF) In the end, the French believe they got the best 
agreement that could be hoped for. XXXXXXXXXXXX said they 
attribute their success primarily to the Russians being ready 
to reach such a deal -- and in fact anxious to have it as a 
way of withdrawing their forces. EU unity and harmony 
between the U.S. and the EU also played a role;
XXXXXXXXXXXX  observed that the Russians were
clearly conscious that they  were facing a united front. 
Sarkozy reportedly warned  Medvedev that Russia's standing
as a "serious power" had been  severely harmed and failure
to meet the obligations Russia is  assuming under this agreement
could do a great deal of  further damage. 

5. (S/NF) XXXXXXXXXXXX added that the Russians
treated Barroso  harshly and condescendingly, and tried to exclude
 him from  many of the sessions. The French attributed this to the 
Russian view that Barroso is basically a glorified  international
civil servant "not worthy to be in the Czar's  XXXXXXXXXXXX
confirmed that Putin was nowhere to be seen during the visit. 

MOSCOW 00002701 002 OF 004 

6. (SBU) In their joint press conference after the meeting, 
Medvedev contrasted the EU and U.S. roles, calling the EU 
"our natural partner, our key partner," and welcoming the EU 
approach as "balanced," while contrasting it to "exotic or 
extremist" positions calling for sanctions. He again accused 
the U.S. of blessing Georgia's desire to use force in the 
conflict, whether by "direct order or silent approval," and 
used this purported U.S. behavior as a reason to call for a 
new world order. Medvedev made clear that Russia would not 
reverse its recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. 

7. (SBU) Sarkozy in turn renewed the EU's rejection of 
Russia's recognition of South Ossetian and Abkhazian 
independence, and at times seemed amused when he thanked 
Medvedev for speaking as the "representative of the European 
position" on Georgia, and again later when he questioned 
Russia's right to "determine Georgia's borders." 

------------------ 
Ambiguities remain 
------------------ 

8. (C) By fixing a timeline for withdrawal, the agreement 
succeeds in rendering obsolete Sarkozy's August 14 
clarifications to the August 12 points, to which the GOR 
maintained it had never agreed. However, the September 8 
agreement leaves open several points that are unclear or 
contentious. The number and nature of Russian troops 
remaining in South Ossetia and Abkhazia is not specified. 
Late September 9, Medvedev declared that Russia would keep 
7,600 troops in the two zones; 3,800 in each area. The 
Sarkozy agreement appears to accept Russian conditionality 
that EU observers be limited to the areas "adjacent" to the 
conflict zones. The nature of the international discussions 
leaves the precise format of the talks open, not clarifying 
if Russia will participate as a mediator or as one of the 
conflict parties, whether and in what capacity Abkhazia and 
South Ossetia will participate, and what the precise goals of 
the talks are. Finally, while Sarkozy gave Medvedev a 
non-use of force statement signed by Saakashvili, the 
document has no legally binding effect, and it is unclear 
whether there will be an effort to make it legally binding. 

9. (C) Following Sarkozy's departure, FM Lavrov used a press 
conference on September 9 to clarify that Russian troops (not 
peacekeepers) would remain in South Ossetia "for a long 
time," ostensibly to protect the residents there from 
Georgian aggression. On the EU observers, he said their role 
would be to guarantee that Georgia would not use force 
against South Ossetia and Abkhazia. On the international 
discussions, he demanded that South Ossetia and Abkhazia be 
given a seat at the table as full-fledged participants. 

10. (U) Ambassadors and Defense Attaches were invited to a 
briefing by Ministry of Defense spokesman General Anatoliy 
Nogovitsyn September 9. Despite a standing-room only 
attendance Nogovitsyn disappointed the diplomatic corps by 
simply rehashing Russian arguments used to justify Russia's 
actions in Georgia, highlighting the history of the 
agreements authorizing Russian peacekeeping forces and the 
chronology of events from August 6-10. He noted that in 
response to a Georgian request, the U.S. had quickly helped 
withdraw Georgian troops from Iraq and transported them to 
Georgia. By helping Georgia, the U.S. had "set a precedent 
of complicity" in the armed conflict, he claimed. Nogovitsyn 
also showed alleged Georgian plans of attack for Abkhazia 
which Russian forces had "recovered," arguing that they 
showed that Georgia had planned to occupy all of Abkhazia, 
target hospitals and civilian infrastructure, prevent 
refugees from fleeing, etc. He claimed they showed an 
"explicit manifestation of genocide." He said that as of 
September 9, Russia had 2452 peacekeepers in the conflict 
zone. He summarized the plan agreed by Sarkozy and Medvedev 
September 8, only noting that Russia expected the EU to send 
"at least 250" observers. 

---------------------------------- 
Russia defiant; Tandemocracy watch 
---------------------------------- 

11. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX claimed  that the EU observer mission,
limited to Georgia proper, was  a diplomatic success for Russia,
even though the GOR on the  eve of the Sarkozy-Medvedev meeting
had categorically refused to allow EU observers to participate in the
post-crisis  management. XXXXXXXXXXXX considered the
Sarkozy-Medvedev deal the most likely  compromise, and the
maximum that either side could expect. He  called the agreement
on Russian troop withdrawal something 

MOSCOW 00002701 003 OF 004 

that Moscow needed, in order to escape continued 
international pressure for not honoring its commitments. 

12. (C) Well-connected editors tell us that the mood within 
the ruling circles remains defiant. XXXXXXXXXXXX both 
XXXXXXXXXXXX and XXXXXXXXXXXX separately
told us September 8 that  they had seen Putin "at his toughest."
Putin brushed aside  the significance of any Western backlash
to Georgia: on the  Sochi Olympics, "let them cancel it: we'll
build one stadium  instead of two;" on energy, "we'll sell Central
Asian gas to  those who want it, including Asia;" on estrangement
with  Europe, "don't worry, European leaders tell me that 
everything will be normal." If the West did not want Russia, 
Russia did not need the West, Putin repeated. "They cannot 
intimidate us." At the same time, XXXXXXXXXXXX stressed
that  Putin did not advocate a preemptively punitive response
and  specifically demurred from pulling Russian investments from 
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, arguing that the markets needed 
more, not less, predictability. Putin maintained that 
Russia wanted to be like China -- to "sit under the roots of 
the tree" and build its power quietly -- but that immediate 
global responsibilities forced it to act. "When Russia is 
challenged, it must respond: we cannot just concede." 
XXXXXXXXXXXX told us that the leadership continued to
brush  aside the market's punishment of Russian policies,
arguing  that they believe the public line that America's
downturn --  and not Georgia -- has precipitated Russia's beating. 

13. (C) The public allegations made by Medvedev and Putin 
that the U.S. turned a blind eye to, or encouraged, Georgia's 
August 7 attack on Tskhinvali continue to be reinforced in 
private. Putin told the editors that the U.S. was engaged in 
cynical electoral politics and needed to create an "enemy" to 
combat, and received no push back in his description of a 
one-sided U.S. policy aimed at shoring up the "puppet," 
Saakashvili. There was also no argument with Putin's 
assessment that the Georgian leader was politically "dead," 
likely insane, and irrelevant to Russia's decision to 
recognize South Ossetia and Abkhazia. XXXXXXXXXXXX
 marveled at  Putin's posture, noting the Prime Minister was 
"convinced that right was on his side," and authoritarian in tone. 
XXXXXXXXXXXX,  warned us that Russian actions were
animated by a wave of  patriotism and anti-American sentiment.
"Never have Russians been so united behind Putin and Medvedev" 
a stance made easier, he noted, by the public revulsion towards 
Saakashvili, which he shared. 

14. (C) In assessing the ruling tandem, XXXXXXXXXXXX
 stressed that "Putin had proved himself" in the crisis; while
discounting  the theory that the Prime Minister intended to return
to the  Kremlin soon, XXXXXXXXXXXX said the war in Georgia
made it  absolutely clear that Putin did not intend to leave
Medvedev  alone. While XXXXXXXXXXXX downplayed the
demise of Medvedev's  reform agenda, he agreed that it had been
put to the side. XXXXXXXXXXXX struck a more pessimistic
note, arguing that the war played to the strengths of the anti-war
camp. Russians looked at U.S. statements and concluded that
America was uncomfortable with Russian independence and
hostile to  Russian strategic interests. XXXXXXXXXXXX
 argued that having "surrounded" Russia, the U.S. should
understand the backlash  that it produced. 

15. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX told us on  September 9 that
the President had emerged stronger because  of the
Georgian crisis. Whereas Putin appeared to take the 
lead during the fight, Medvedev showed his mettle by 
arranging the terms to stop the conflict. The decision to 
recognize the separatist regions was "unavoidable" after the 
leadership had decided to go beyond the borders of South 
Ossetia (a decision that XXXXXXXXXXXX linked to Putin's
personal  enmity for Saakashvilli) and underscored that
Moscow could  not backtrack on that decision. Medvedev was
apparently  comfortable with the state of affairs
XXXXXXXXXXXX noted that Medvedev looked "relaxed"
during a private dinner at Sochi on  September 2. For the time being,
XXXXXXXXXXXX sawMedvedev as  somewhat boxed in and
forced to take a more aggressive,  "emotional" public stance than his
usual lawyerly approach to policy. In the current Russian political
environment, any effort at taking a "softer approach" would only
make him  appear weak. 

------- 
Comment 
------- 

16. (C) The September 8 Sarkozy-Medvedev document is a step 

MOSCOW 00002701 004 OF 004 

forward in setting clear deadlines for Russian troop 
withdrawal. However, the limits on the EU observer mission, 
as well as questions about the October 15 security 
conference, and Medvedev's insistence that Russia will not 
reverse its decision on recognition, presage the likelihood 
of a new "Cyprus-like" frozen conflict in the Caucasus. 
BEYRLE

http://cablegate.wikileaks.org/cable/2008/09/08MOSCOW2701.html

 

Wikileaks: Importance of Continued Military Engagement with Georgia

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 TBILISI 001123

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR P, EUR
WHSR PLEASE PASS TO OVP

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/18/2019
TAGS: PREL PGOV MARR MOPS PBTS RS GG
SUBJECT: IMPORTANCE OF CONTINUED MILITARY ENGAGEMENT WITH
GEORGIA

REF: MOSCOW 1591

Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft for Reasons 1.4(b) and (d).

1. (C) Summary. The June 22 kickoff of the U.S.-Georgia
Charter Commission will raise the question of the future of
our military cooperation. Embassy Moscow's recent cable
(reftel) has highlighted Russian views and the potential
impact on our attempt to reset our relations with Moscow.
There are, however, strong arguments in favor of providing
Georgia a modest, transparent defensive capability. We
provide our views in this cable. In our assessment, the
Russians are effectively using propaganda based in falsehoods
regarding the current state of the Georgian military to
ratchet up tensions, while simultaneously impressing upon the
U.S. that any efforts to provide military assistance to
Georgia will pose potential roadblocks to improving the
U.S.-Russia relationship. Accepting Russian objections,
however, contradicts stated U.S. policies such as rejecting
the notion of spheres of influence; refusing a third party
veto over NATO membership; and maintaining equal commitment
to relations with both Russia and Georgia. It gives Russian
disinformation an undeserved voice in U.S. policy formation.

2. (C) Summary, continued: Embassy Tbilisi believes that
increased transparent military cooperation could help
stabilize the situation in Georgia, as Georgia seeks to
develop its defensive capacity -- and even decrease the size
of its standing army. Retreating from our commitments would
send a profoundly mixed signal to our partners in the region
and in western Europe, especially to those who are
considering opening up their society, increasing
transparency, and seeking increased partnership with the
west. Russia will undoubtedly object to increased military
cooperation, but the answer is not to validate their concern,
but to set the record straight in an organized, aggressive
private and public diplomacy campaign with both Russia and
our broader partners. To do otherwise would be to reward
Russia's aggression in Georgia, as well as its violation of
international law and commitments; encourage a similar stance
in Ukraine; and deal a body blow to our credibility in
Georgia, other Eurasian states, our western partners -- and
ultimately Russia itself. End summary.

THE GEORGIAN ARMY HAS NOT RE-ARMED

3. (C) Russian claims that Georgia has more military
capability now than in August 2008,or that it has been
steadily re-arming its forces, are false. During the August
2008 conflict, Georgia lost extensive capabilities, including
30 percent of its armored vehicles, 40 percent of
U.S.-produced AR-15 rifles, and at least 60 percent of its
air defense capability. These have not been replaced. We
are aware of only two deliveries of lethal military equipment
since the war: Ejder armored personnel carriers from a
Turkish firm, based on a pre-war contract; and 16 armored
HMMWVs for the Special Forces Brigade under a program begun
in 2007. The latter were purchased using Coalition Support
Funds, the case was processed before the August war, and the
vehicles would be used in such coalition operations as those
in Afghanistan. The U.S. and other NATO partners have moved
cautiously since the war. Bilateral military-to-military
events between NATO partners and Georgia have been reduced,
Qevents between NATO partners and Georgia have been reduced,
suspended, even terminated. The U.S. in particular has yet
to renew a capacity-building program begun months ago, and we
have not executed a single kinetic event since August,
despite Georgian desires for more tactical training. The
NATO PfP Lancer/Longbow exercises, publicly used by Russia
against the Alliance and Georgia, were planned more than a
year in advance with full Russian knowledge and possibility
for participation.

JOINING THE AFGHANISTAN COALITION

4. (C) Secretary Gates' approach on security cooperation of
"brains before brawn" (B3) focuses on the intellectual
development of the Georgian armed forces and is non-kinetic
in nature. The U.S. has now told Georgia we accepted their
offer to deploy a battalion for two years in RC-South, one of
the most dangerous areas of Afghanistan. While it is not yet
known how much training and equipping will be needed to bring
Georgia effectively into the coalition, it is in both U.S.
and Russian interests to widen the coalition in Afghanistan.
Some lethal training will undoubtedly be involved, and we
should not allow Russia to twist any such cooperation in

TBILISI 00001123 002 OF 004

Afghanistan, one of the Administration's top priorities, into
a phantom threat.

MINIMAL DEFENSIVE CAPABILITIES NEEDED FOR SURVIVAL

5. (C) Georgia also wants to rebuild its native defensive
capacity, which is currently insufficient to control its own
airspace or hinder an invasion from any of its neighbors.
Current Georgian operational thinking is that if they can
defend Tbilisi from occupation for 72 hours, then
international pressure will force the advance to pause. To
achieve this extremely limited goal, Georgia needs sufficient
anti-armor and air defense capability to stall a ground
advance, which it currently lacks. The development of this
capacity is not solely equipment-based, but it will require
the acquisition of new lethal defensive systems. If Georgia
does not procure the equipment from the U.S., it will almost
surely seek to procure it elsewhere, as it has done in the
past. U.S. involvement would help ensure the transparency of
the procurement process itself, as well as increase our
control over the amount, type and location of the equipment.

6. (C) In addition, Minister Sikharulidze recently approved
an intermediate force structure change that would reduce the
Georgian Armed Forces total personnel strength by 6,000
service members from the current 36,000. (Current actual
personnel is approximately 31,000.) Without prejudging the
ongoing Strategic Assessment process, the Minister has
confided to us that the final Georgian force structure will
be below 30,000. The Georgians have not publicized this
proposed downsizing because they fear that a smaller Georgian
Army could encourage Russian armed incursions. Furthermore,
a recently proposed further 7 percent reduction in the
defense budget will drop Georgia's total defense spending to
less than half of 2008 levels.

7. (C) Georgia's military plan is defensive in nature. As
EUR Assistant Secretary Gordon recently noted to Georgian
Defense Minister Sikharulidze, every country has the right to
defend itself - as described in Article 51 of the UN Charter.
Russia may argue no weapon is only defensive in nature;
anti-tank and air defense systems, however, would not give
Georgia the capacity to launch an offensive attack. Russia
may argue that Georgia is acquiring other, more offensive
systems clandestinely at the same time. There is no evidence
to support this assertion, and we would have a much greater
degree of influence -- and be in a position to keep Russia
well informed -- if we were involved in defensive system
procurement. Finally, Russia will likely level allegations
of increased Georgian offensive capacity regardless of facts,
just as they have done in the Geneva process. Georgia,
however, provides far more transparency on its military
forces than virtually any country in the world, signing MOUs
between the EU Monitoring Mission (EUMM) and its Ministries
of Defense and Internal Affairs that give the observers
unprecedented access to Georgian military and law enforcement
installations. The EUMM, along with the OSCE, has repeatedly
affirmed that Georgia has respected the limits established in
those MOUs and has no offensive capability near Abkhazia and
South Ossetia. Russia essentially ignores these statements
and continues to level the same allegations, but that bluster
Qand continues to level the same allegations, but that bluster
does not change the fact of Georgia's continued restraint.
As we seek to help Georgia develop its defensive capacity, we
could pursue smilar public and/or written commitments from
the Georgians on the exclusively defensive nature of the
program.

8. (C) We believe that providing Georgia with enhanced
defensive capabilities will stabilize the situation. While
Russia, as well as the de facto regimes in Abkhazia and South
Ossetia, may argue otherwise, it is Russia and its proxy
regimes that have dramatically increased the militarization
of Georgia over the past year. Russia has introduced at
least 3,700 troops into sovereign Georgian territory, as well
as heavy military equipment, such as tanks, artillery and
anti-aircraft systems, into the area immediately adjacent to
the administrative boundaries -- in direct violation of the
commitments President Medvedev made in the cease-fire
agreement. It is Georgia that has lost 14 police officers
since the war; kidnappings, cattle thefts, and detentions
continue along the boundary, mostly on the Abkhaz and South
Ossetian sides. Russian helicopters make regular flights
along the boundaries, sometimes crossing them, and Russian
forces move large numbers of troops and heavy equipment along
the boundaries at will. Meanwhile, the EUMM, OSCE and UNOMIG

TBILISI 00001123 003 OF 004

continue to confirm Georgia's cooperative and constructive
approach. There is little to deter Russia from taking
additional military action, except a legitimate defensive
force opposing it. At the same time, such a force would not
pose an offensive threat to the regions.

9. (C) Retreating from military cooperation would be a step
back from commitments we have made to Georgia and other
international partners. Not only will Georgia be
disappointed in our diminished support, and hesitant to trust
us again, but other partners will draw the same conclusions.
The Russia-Georgia war has already led some countries, such
as Azerbaijan and the Central Asian states, to question the
extent of our commitment, even though we never committed to
the direct military defense of Georgia. A step back from
commitments we have made would remove any doubt in our
unreliability and convince countries from Belarus to
Kyrgyzstan, even as they try to recalibrate their own
relationship with Russia, that the risks of continuing
partnership with Russia are less than those of moving toward
cooperation with the United States. One of our specific
commitments has been to NATO membership for Georgia,
politically at the Bucharest Summit, and at the operational
level, with the Georgia-NATO Commission and the Annual
National Plan. A key component of that process is the
development of Georgia's homeland defense capacity. Since
last August we have engaged with Georgia on elements of their
preparation for Euro-Atlantic integration, but the military
component cannot be deferred indefinitely. The longer we
defer action, the clearer the message will be to Georgia and
others that our commitment to membership has diminished.

10. (C) Beyond our specific commitment to Georgia, we have
made broader commitments not to allow Russia to impose its
flawed zero-sum vision on our own strategic view of the
world. The Secretary explicitly rejected Russia's notion of
spheres of influence during her May 7 meeting with Foreign
Minister Lavrov. The Vice President rejected the same notion
at the February Munich Security Conference. The President
himself told President Medvedev the same thing in London.
All three have likewise expressed unequivocal support for
Georgia's NATO aspirations and territorial integrity. Any
perceived or real retreat from these unambiguous statements
-- and our special relationship with Georgia makes it a test
case -- will raise questions about our leadership.

LOOKING AHEAD

11. (C) A difficult, but crucial, element of our strategy for
continuing engagement with Georgia while maintaining a good
relationship with Russia will be an aggressive private, as
well as public diplomacy campaign that is well coordinated
with our western partners. Russia will try to spin any
military cooperation as negatively as possible, but we must
not allow Russian disinformation to go unchallenged. As
noted above, we have already taken the first step in our
engagement with the Georgian military: agreeing together on
the B3 approach. We are currently exploring the best fit for
a Georgian contribution to the effort in Afghanistan.
Neither of these areas could be considered threatening. A
further step, toward helping Georgia improve its defensive
capacity, would not be inherently threatening, and could help
Qcapacity, would not be inherently threatening, and could help
stabilize the situation. We must resist efforts to cast it
any other way. Russia will likely continue to portray NATO
engagement as threatening.

12. (C) More fundamentally, Russia continues to characterize
our differing agendas in the post-Soviet space as a zero-sum,
new "Great Game". Unlike in the 19th century, when two
empires vied to establish control over the intervening
territory in the exclusive pursuit of their own narrow
interests, U.S. policy seeks to enable independent countries
to make their own choices. However real the perception may
be among Russians that the United States is out to get them,
we must resist all efforts to confuse that perception with
our true intentions. Georgia is seeking to choose its own
partners, defend its own country, establish a market-based
economy free of corruption, and further develop its young
democracy -- and we are helping it do so. Georgia poses no
threat to Russia; it wants the political space to pursue its
own path. To step back from our mission because Russia
mitrusts our motives is to cede to Russia the terms of
development in Eurasia for the foreseeable future.

13. (C) There are two practical steps that we might consider

TBILISI 00001123 004 OF 004

pursuing to help both address the real danger of instability
and blunt Russia's momentum in the public diplomacy sphere.
First, we could encourage Georgia to make public and/or
written commitments about the exclusively defensive nature of
its new military programs. Second, we could encourage
Georgia to offer to sign a non-use of force agreement with
Russia. Russia has been pushing hard for such an agreement
between Georgia and its own regions, which Georgia has
understandably been unwilling to consider. If Georgia were
to call Russia's bluff and offer to sign such an agreement
with Russia itself, however, the burden would shift to Russia
to demonstrate the sincerity of its commitment to stability.
It is unlikely that Russia, which still maintains the fiction
that it is not a party to the conflict, would accept
Georgia's offer, but it would be left on the defensive.
Meanwhile Georgia could pursue its defensive development with
a ready answer to any Russian claims of belligerence or
provocation. (Note: Embassy Tbilisi has not explored either
of these steps with Georgia, so they are only ideas at this
point, but experience suggests Georgia would at least be
willing to consider them. The steps Georgia has already
taken to provide transparency on its military and law
enforcement activities suggest they would be willing to take
similar steps. In the months after the war, senior Georgian
officials expressed their willingness to pursue a non-use of
force agreement if Russia made certain concessions. End
note.)

COMMENT: BALANCING RISKS

14. (C) Embassy Tbilisi does not question the importance or
difficulty of managing our relationship with Russia,
especially if we proceed with further military cooperation
with Georgia. No matter how loudly we insist on the true
state of affairs, most Russians at this point will either not
believe us or ignore us, as Embassy Moscow pointed out.
There is indeed a risk that taking the next step with Georgia
will jeopardize the improvement of our relationship with
Russia. There is also a risk, however, that not taking that
step will both foster further instability in Georgia and
jeopardize our credibility in a much broader space.
Furthermore, as past experience has shown, there is yet
another risk: that improvements in relations with Russia,
even if bought with compromises on other U.S. interests, will
not pay off with any real dividends. Embassy Tbilisi would
argue that sacrificing a relationship with a dedicated
partner like Georgia is the greater risk, because it will
only embolden Russia in the future, both to push for more
concessions on our part and to reassert its perceived sphere
of influence further. Up to this point, Russia has paid no
concrete penalty whatsoever for invading and occupying a
neighboring country; unilaterally recognizing two of its
regions as independent states; violating CFE and cease-fire
commitments by vastly increasing its military presence in
those regions and not allowing humanitarian access;
corrupting the original concept of the Geneva process into a
forum to lend legitimacy to the regions; blocking a
status-neutral effort by the international community, through
the OSCE, to promote stability; and killing the UN Observer
Mission in Georgia. Allowing Russia to dictate the pace of
QMission in Georgia. Allowing Russia to dictate the pace of
military engagement with Georgia will be seen as rewarding
Russia for its behavior. It could only be a matter of time
before it takes similar actions in Ukraine or elsewhere.
TEFFT

http://cablegate.wikileaks.org/cable/2009/06/09TBILISI1123.html

Wikileaks – War in Georgia – from US Embassy in Moscow

2006 21 July

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 MOSCOW 007863 SIPDIS SIPDIS E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/21/2016 TAGS: PREL, MARR, MOPS, GG, RS SUBJECT: GEORGIA-RUSSIA: PUTIN-SAAKASHVILI MEETING OFF, LEAVING LITTLE CLARITY AND MUCH SUSPICION REF: MOSCOW 7769 Classified By: Deputy Chief of Mission Daniel A. Russell. Reason 1.4 ( b, d)

Summary  ——-

1. (C) Georgian President Saakashvili will not meet President Putin in Moscow at the July 21-22 informal CIS Summit. Both sides agreed to announce they would set up a special meeting in the near future. In a bid to improve the atmosphere Georgian DFM Antadze, meeting with Russian DFM Denisov July 19, agreed to start work on a Counter-Terrorism Center and to hold talks in September on Georgia’s NATO aspirations. But on the core issues — separatist conflicts, Russian peacekeepers, and Russian economic measures that express irritation with Saakashvili and his allies — neither side appears willing to budge. The Russians claim to understand that the status quo cannot be eternal, and are working on alternative proposals, but these are not likely to be acceptable to the Georgians. War talk has gripped Moscow. However, both the Russian negotiator for South Ossetia and the Georgian Ambassador believe that the warmongers on both sides can be controlled. End Summary. Off to the Races: The Races Are Off  ———————————–

2. (C) Several CIS heads of state canceled their visits to Moscow July 21 for horse races hosted by President Putin the following day. It became clear that Putin would only have one or two bilateral meetings. On the morning of July 21 the Kremlin informed the Georgian Embassy that Saakashvili would not be among them, and Saakashvili decided not to come. Georgian Ambassador Irakli Chubinishvili told us that both sides agreed to play down the cancellation in public, and to announce that the horse races did not provide a suitable venue for the serious issues they needed to discuss; and that they would set up a separate meeting in the near future.

3. (C) Popov and Chubinishvili, while not upbeat, were convinced that the cancellation would not have serious effects. Chubinishvili told us that DFM Merab Antadze (who has just been nominated to be Minister for Conflict Resolution) had seen Russian DFM Denisov July 19, and had tried to improve the atmosphere by offering to start work on a Counter-Terrorism Center that the Russians had proposed (on June 13, Saakashvili had told Putin that the time was not right to start on that Center). Antadze also agreed with Denisov on talks to start September 7 on Georgia’s NATO aspirations.

4. (C) Both Chubinishvili and Popov questioned what might have come out of a Saakashvili-Putin meeting. Chubinishvili feared that when Saakashvili asked to start negotiations on withdrawing Russian peacekeeping forces per the Georgian Parliament’s July 18 Resolution, Putin would simply say “no,” Saakashvili would reply that the peacekeepers would be illegal, and the conversation would stop there. Popov painted a similar scenario. The Russians read the resolution as a “poorly timed political declaration” couched in the wording of an “ultimatum.” “Our peacekeepers will not leave,” he said flatly. Russian Thinking on the Future ——————————

5. (C) We suggested to Popov that the resolution might have been designed to get Russia to engage in serious negotiations, and that it was the natural result of 14 years without progress. Popov maintained that Russia does not see the status quo as tenable forever, and wants a lasting solution that accommodates the aspirations of both the Georgians and South Ossetians. Russian think tanks, he said, have been trying to come up with an appropriate model. He mentioned a “protectorate” on the order of the Marshall Islands (we assume he meant the Compact of Free Association by which the independent Marshalls receive assistance and benefits from the U.S., which is responsible for defense and has certain other defense-related rights). We asked with whom South Ossetia would be associated — Russia or Georgia? “Perhaps a condominium,” Popov replied. (Comment: the previous day, MFA negotiator for Transnistria Nesterushkin had also raised the Marshall Islands as a model (Reftel). The Kremlin may be about to adopt this as a proposal involving “free association” with the CIS, not Russia. However, such a solution is unlikely to be acceptable to Georgia. Chubinishvili believes Georgia will withdraw from the CIS by the end of the year; the Russian proposal may be an attempt to convince Georgia not to leave. End Comment.) MOSCOW 00007863 002 OF 003

6. (C) We explored with Popov whether Russia was opposed to any changes that might allow a resolution of the current tensions over peacekeepers with something each side could show to its constituency. We asked about international civilian policing, which was mentioned in the Georgian resolution. Popov replied that the issue of bilateral Georgian-South Ossetian policing was raised at the June meeting of Interior Ministers in Tskhinvali. The abortive Joint Control Commission (JCC) meeting that was scheduled for Tbilisi this week was supposed to have discussed the issue. It would be taken up at the next JCC, which was scheduled for Moscow in late July-early August (Popov thought it would actually take place in mid-August). Law enforcement was an absolute necessity, he agreed, but he warned that resistance from those on both sides who earn money from smuggling would have to be overcome. He made clear that the “contraband barons” included both the leadership of South Ossetia and Georgian DefMin Okruashvili. Rumors of War ————-

7. (S) We have been impressed with the unanimity with which Russians of all stripes — in and out of government, and of varying politics — believe Georgia is about to start a war over South Ossetia. Many believe the U.S. has been egging Georgia on. One analyst told us June 20 that he knew that President Bush had given Saakashvili a “green light” when the two met on July 5. Russian intelligence has further alleged that the U.S. is training Okruashvili’s MPs near the borders of South Ossetia.

8. (S) Popov was convinced that neither the Russians nor the South Ossetians would start fighting. Popov said that the Russians were unhappy with Kokoity, whom they viewed as impulsive and erratic, and who would behave irrationally if cornered. One of the main functions of the Russian PKF was to keep the South Ossetians in line. Popov said that the PKF’s commander, General Kulakhmetov, was the best the PKF had ever had, because he refused to let the PKF be drawn into Kokoity’s schemes. Popov said he was confident that Russia could keep things quiet inside South Ossetia

9. (S) Chubinishvili also told us July 18 that he thought there would be no war. He revealed that Saakashvili, when in Moscow in June, had feared that the Ossetians would start driving Georgians out of their villages inside South Ossetia. Saakashvili thought he might have no choice but to respond with force. Chubinishvili and FM Bezhuashvili had tried to convince Saakashvili that this was suicide, and Chubinishvili believed they had convinced Saakashvili — for the moment. But Chubinishvili also recognized that DefMin Okruashvili would be working on Saakashvili to give him the go-ahead. Ultimately, Chubinishvili believed, this was just a tactic — Okruashvili did not really want to fight, but wanted to be able to go on TV and declare that he had been ready and would have gone had he just received an okay. Ultimately, the Russians did not want a war, Chubinishvili believed, because it would upset the status quo (he did not imply that Saakashvili shared that optimism). And the South Ossetians would hold back because the fighting would be in their villages, destroying their houses.

10. (C) Popov remained suspicious of Georgian intentions, however, and especially of DefMin Okruashvili, whose goons had detained him and Russian Land Forces Deputy Commander Yevnevich twice between Tbilisi and Tskhinvali (Popov found bitter amusement in the fact that the “savages” who detained and cursed him had stooped to stealing his two ballpoint pens). He said that Okruashvili was undercutting Saakashvili’s efforts to deal with the Russians. The fact that Okruashvili was still in his post indicated to Popov that both Saakashvili and the U.S. were satisfied with him — since, Popov believed, the U.S. had enough influence to “get rid of” Okruashvili if he were really a hindrance. Nonetheless, Popov said, if the U.S. could ensure that the Georgians did not start fighting, the Russians could ensure that no one else in South Ossetia would, either. Comment ——-

11. (S) While Popov’s remarks about Kokoity conveniently support the case for keeping Russian peacekeepers in South Ossetia, we believe he is sincere both in his assertion that Russia wants to keep a lid on the situation and in his assessment that the Georgians are capable of launching military action. Though most actors appear to want to avoid war, the potential for miscalculation is still significant. MOSCOW 00007863 003 OF 003

12. (C) The Russians will probably view the replacement of Khaindrava by Antadze as a mixed bag. They will be pleased that the new negotiator is a low-key professional diplomat who believes in negotiating in private, and not in the press. But they had also come to see Khaindrava as a member of the “Party of Peace,” and his removal after a very public spat with Okruashvili is already being seen as an indicator of the latter’s power, influence and ability to dictate Saakashvili’s policies. BURNS

 

 

Wikileaks: US Not Rearming Georgia


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

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

SIPDIS 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/29/2019 
TAGS: PREL PGOV MARR KACT IR RS
SUBJECT: FM LAVROV DISCUSSES MISSILE DEFENSE AND IRAN WITH 
CODEL LEVIN 

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. 

Post-START 
---------- 

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 
leadership." 

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." 

Afghanistan/Pakistan 
-------------------- 

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. 
BEYRLE

http://cablegate.wikileaks.org/cable/2009/04/09MOSCOW1111.html

Wikileaks: Georgia in US-French Discussions

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 04 PARIS 001254 

NOFORN 
SIPDIS 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/16/2018 
TAGS: PREL PARM KNNP BH SM MK GR FR
SUBJECT: A/S GORDON'S MEETINGS WITH POLICY-MAKERS IN PARIS: 
A TOUR D'HORIZON OF EUROPE AND AFGHANISTAN 

Classified By: Ambassador Charles Rivkin, for reasons 1.4(b) and (d). 

1.  (S) Summary.  During Assistant Secretary Gordon's visit 
to Paris on September 11, he met with a number of French 
policy-makers including: Elysee Diplomatic Advisors 
Jean-David Levitte, Damien Loras, and Francois Richier, 
Assistant Secretary equivalent for Continental Europe Roland 
Galharague, and Acting Director of MFA Strategic Affairs 
bureau Jean-Hugues Simon-Michel.  Discussions focused on 
Russia, upcoming developments in the Balkans (Bosnia, 
Croatia, Macedonia and Kosovo), elections in Germany and 
Afghanistan, Turkey's EU Accession, NATO Enlargement and 
Strategic Concept, and Georgia and Ukraine.  End Summary. 

------------------------------------- 
AFGHANISTAN: A MAJOR PRIORITY 
------------------------------------- 

2.  (C) Jean-David Levitte noted that while public opinion in 
France is opposed to the war in Afghanistan, the situation 
here is much calmer than in the UK, Germany, or Italy. 
Angela Merkel's domestic political situation after the 
incident in Kunduz was particularly fragile, so that was part 
of the rationale behind the recent German-French-UK letter to 
UN SYG Ban Ki Moon to propose an international conference on 
Afghanistan by the end of the year.  Levitte said that the 
goal of the conference would be to accelerate and improve the 
training of Afghan troops and police and to strengthen Afghan 
state institutions, which will help reinforce the importance 
of the international effort to skeptical publics.  They are 
now waiting for Ban Ki Moon's response.  Levitte emphasized 
that France remains "totally engaged" in Afghanistan with no 
limits or caveats on its troops.  This autumn, France will 
complete a transfer of troops from Kabul to Kapisa and Surobi 
provinces (a presence that will be reinforced on the ground 
as France reassigns some sailors to other regional activities 
and replaces them with ground troops).  A/S Gordon assured 
Levitte that the U.S. would soon be able to share the 
elements of the McChrystal military review with Allies. 
Levitte responded by praising General McChrystal and saying 
that French forces have an excellent dialogue with him on the 
ground.  He added that Germany and the UK are determined to 
stay in Afghanistan as needed, but we may need to convince 
the Netherlands to remain, and that President Sarkozy had 
recently reinforced this message in a meeting with Dutch PM 
Balkenende. 

------------------------------------------- 
BOSNIA: FRENCH URGE TRANFER TO EU AUTHORITY 
------------------------------------------- 

3.  (C) Levitte noted that of the five major conditions 
required to transfer authority in Bosnia from the UN High 
Representative to an EU High Representative, four have been 
fulfilled, and only the question of division of state 
property remains.  This final condition should not alone 
"block all progress," especially as the current UN team in 
Bosnia is no longer effective.  France wants to see the 
transfer of authority to a new EU team in November, as the 
rapprochement to Europe is an effective "carrot" to encourage 
the Bosniaks to continue progress in necessary reforms.  A/S 
Gordon agreed that the current system is not working well, 
but noted that the international community will lose 
credibility if we move forward before all the necessary 
pre-conditions have been fulfilled.  He added that the U.S. 
agrees that some form of carrot is necessary to urge Bosnian 
compliance.  Levitte noted that they still have two months to 
urge Bosnian progress before a final decision is made.  In a 
separate meeting, Assistant Secretary equivalent for 
Continental Europe Roland Galharague said that "transition is 
the number one objective," suggested the division of state 
property will take much time to resolve, and urged the U.S. 
to support early transfer of authority that would open the 
door to Bosnian aspirations for greater integration into EU 
institutions.  He noted that the growing perception of 
divisions between the US and Bosniaks on one side who favored 
retaining the UN role and the EU and Serbs on the other 
created unhelpful opportunities for manipulation.  A/S Gordon 
said this perception was inaccurate, but noted the U.S. is 
sensitive to the political need for Bosniak leaders to sell 
this decision to their publics.  The USG needs to see a clear 
path ahead for transition in order to support it. 

----------------------------------------- 
KOSOVO AND SERBIA 
----------------------------------------- 

4.  (C) Levitte noted that the EULEX mission is having 
diplomatic problems with the Kosovar government and public 

PARIS 00001254  002 OF 004 

after signing two technical protocols with Serbia.  They are 
hoping to ensure continued calm as Kosovo heads into 
municipal elections.  A/S Gordon stated that the Kosovars 
will have to accept the protocols but that it should be 
clearly explained that these are technical agreements that 
have no impact on Kosovo's independent status.  Levitte also 
criticized Serbian FM Jeremic, saying that he is doing 
nothing to encourage Serb return or participation in Kosovo's 
government.  Levitte noted that Jeremic "makes big promises" 
every time he comes to France, but doesn't follow through. 
Levitte no longer meets with him and does not consider him to 
be the "modern face of Belgrade" that he purports to be. 

----------------------------------------- 
MACEDONIA AND CROATIA 
----------------------------------------- 

5.  (C) Levitte expressed optimism that a new Greek 
government would be "more solid" and allow greater 
flexibility for progress in the Greek-Macedonian name 
dispute.  A/S Gordon agreed that either a more solid 
Conservative government or a Socialist government would be a 
stronger, more flexible partner in the negotiations.  He 
expressed hope that if the international community could 
convince Macedonia to abandon the idea of a referendum and 
get Greece to abandon the necessity of changing passports, 
then progress could be made.  On Croatia, Levitte observed 
that the border issue with Slovenia is making progress.  He 
hoped that the upcoming September elections in Germany would 
also allow the new German government to be more open to EU 
enlargement to include the Balkan countries.  Paris wants the 
door to enlargement to remain open, even if the accession 
process takes time. 

---------------------------------------- 
CONCERNS ABOUT TURKEY 
---------------------------------------- 

6.  (C) Levitte informed A/S Gordon that there had been no 
change in the French position advocating a "privileged 
partnership" between the European Union and Turkey, in lieu 
of EU membership.  However, he emphasized that France was not 
preventing accession negotiations from progressing on all the 
EU chapters that do not pre-suppose membership.  There remain 
plenty of chapters of the acquis to open, so if progress is 
not being made, the fault lies with Turkish intransigence on 
Cyprus.  Unfortunately, Ankara is not completing the required 
necessary reforms and progress has stalled.  Levitte 
anticipated a negative report this fall on Turkey's failure 
to fulfill the Ankara Protocol.  A/S Gordon said that Turkey 
was caught in a vicious cycle and it is not completing 
necessary reforms because the Turks do not believe that their 
EU candidacy will be allowed to progress, and at the same 
time, their negotiations are not progressing because they 
aren't completing the required reforms.  He noted that in the 
latest German Marshall Fund polls in Turkey, fewer that 30% 
of the Turkish public believes they will succeed in getting 
EU membership. 

7.  (C) Levitte agreed, but noted that Paris hopes that it 
will be the Turks themselves who realize that their role is 
best played as a bridge between the two worlds of Europe and 
Asia, rather than anchored in Europe itself.  He stated that 
Turkey is in a difficult position as it wants to enter the EU 
but has refused to accept one of the other EU member states. 
Levitte predicted that a worse case scenario would be if 
Turkey finally manages to complete the acquis and end 
negotiations and a public referendum is held in France which 
is finally opposed to their membership.  Despite all of these 
problems, Levitte claimed that President Sarkozy is a friend 
of Turkey and has visited the country at least 10 times in 
his life. 

----------------------------------------- 
RUSSIA AND GEORGIA 
----------------------------------------- 

8.  (C)  A/S Gordon described the challenges and frustrations 
of the U.S.- Russia relationship, which is based on finding 
areas where we can work together on our common interest.  He 
noted progress at the July summit meeting on such issues as 
START talks and transfer of lethal material through Russia to 
Afghanistan.  Galharague described Russia as a state with the 
trappings of democracy but without any mechanisms for the 
public to influence government decision-making.  "The root of 
the problem is the regime," he said.  Presidential advisor 
Loras added Russian leaders lacked sufficient, long-range 
vision for their country and instead, focused on a six-month 
time horizon and their business interests.  Galharague 

PARIS 00001254  003 OF 004 

described the French strategy as finding a balance between 
treating Russia as if it is too important or treating it like 
an enemy. The French observed that some in Russia have 
concluded their interests are served by keeping the west 
"tied down in an Afghanistan quagmire" and by sustaining the 
status quo in Iran.  He elaborated that a solution that 
thwarts Iran's nuclear weapons ambitions and restores Iran as 
a normal member of the international community could 
undermine Russian regional and energy interests.  Loras noted 
of late the Russians have been unhelpful on Iran.   Moreover, 
they appear to have concluded they can pocket a projected 
U.S. decision to scale back or abandon the Bush 
administration's Missile Defense initiative without paying 
any cost. 

9.  (C) Looking ahead on the energy front, Loras predicted 
that substantial Russian under-investment in energy 
extraction infrastructure was such that Russia would not be 
able to meet European demand in four or five years.  He 
observed this created an opportunity for Russia to have even 
more leverage over a Europe that has not prepared to 
diversify its energy supplies. In response to a question on 
Russia's decision to suspend negotiations on World Trade 
Organization membership in favor of a customs union with 
Kazakhstan and Belarus,  A/S Gordon replied the U.S. would 
continue a policy review on Missile Defense to take the right 
decision based on the merits.   On Russian actions regarding 
the WTO, he said that Moscow's decision was likely supported 
by Russians whose interests were not advanced by opening 
markets.  Galharague observed that failure to advance WTO 
membership for Russia had negative implications for 
EU-Russian trade relations as progress in this EU effort 
pre-supposed progress on Russian accession to the WTO. Loras 
reported the coming year will involve substantial 
Franco-Russian interactions.  This engagement would include a 
visit by French Prime Minister Fillon to Russia in September, 
a visit to France by Putin in November, a state visit to 
France by Medvedev in March, and a Sarkozy visit to Russia in 
2010 on the margins of the St. Petersburg forum.  These 
visits would occur under the auspices of reciprocal "Year of 
France" events in Russia and "Year of Russia" events in 
France. 

10.  (C) Levitte and A/S Gordon discussed the "dangerous" 
precedent of ships being intercepted in Georgian waters. 
Sarkozy Advisor Damien Loras noted that President Saakashvili 
has a French advisor who has informed Paris that Georgian 
ships have orders to respond if fired upon.  This can 
escalate and the French message has been to emphasize that 
Georgia must not respond to provocation, as that would only 
play into Russia's hands.  Levitte stressed the importance of 
maintaining the Geneva process, while noting that it may take 
a generation before the Russian public will be able to accept 
their loss of influence, from Poland and the Baltics to 
Ukraine and Georgia.  Unfortunately, the Russian tendency is 
to view "good neighbors" as totally submissive subordinates. 
On the other hand, Paris is closely watching Medvedev, who is 
more frequently taking public stances in opposition to Putin. 
 Medvedev is more open to the occidental powers and more open 
to modernization and rule of law issues that Russia must 
face.  A/S Gordon observed that President Obama had spent a 
good deal of time with Medvedev on his trip to Russia, and 
had specifically targeted Russian youth in his public 
outreach event.  In his meeting with Galharague and others, 
A/S Gordon noted that the U.S. pursues a policy to support 
Georgia in the face of Russian pressure without encouraging 
President Saakashvili to act in ways that are unhelpful. 

----------------------------------------- 
IRAN: NEXT STEPS 
----------------------------------------- 

11.  (S/NF)  Levitte noted that the Iranian response to the 
overture of President Obama and the West was "a farce," 
although Russia had received it as a real initiative.  The 
current Iranian regime is effectively a fascist state and the 
time has come to decide on next steps.  Levitte stated that 
this is why Paris is advocating a meeting of the EU3 PLUS 3 
on the margins of the Pittsburgh G20 meeting.  The French 
hope to approve a two-paragraph statement laying out next 
steps on negotiations or sanctions.  He noted that German 
Chancellor Angela Merkel shares the view of the French 
President and is willing to be firm on sanctions, but that FM 
Steinmeier was more cautious.  The Iranian regime must 
understand that it will be more threatened by economic harm 
and the attendant social unrest than it would be by 
negotiating with the West.  Unfortunately, the P-3 cannot 
remain passive until Russia and China finally lose patience; 

PARIS 00001254  004 OF 004 

this is why a high-level political meeting is important to 
advance this discussion (and Levitte cited President 
Sarkozy's frank and direct style, saying that he would 
pinpoint Medvedev to explain his position).  Levitte said 
that he informed the Chinese FM that if they delay until a 
possible Israeli raid, then the world will have to deal with 
a catastrophic energy crisis as well.  At the same time, the 
debate over stopping the flow of gasoline into Iran will be 
very sensitive and would have to take into account which 
countries would be only too willing to step in and replace 
European companies.  Levitte informed us that they would like 
President Sarkozy to talk to President Obama by telephone in 
the coming days to discuss the G20 and Iran.  The French are 
proposing two possible windows to schedule the call. 

---------------------------------------- 
NATO'S ENLARGEMENT AND STRATEGIC CONCEPT 
---------------------------------------- 

12.  (C) Levitte said that France was very pleased with the 
selection of Madeleine Albright to chair the "Group of 12," 
which will launch the process of reviewing NATO's Strategic 
Concept.  Bruno Racine will be the French participant on the 
panel, and Levitte stressed that there is already strong 
agreement between France and the United States on the basis 
of exchanges that he has had with NSA General Jim Jones. 
Levitte noted that Paris agreed with Jones on suppressing the 
Membership Action Plan (MAP), which had become an obstacle 
rather than an incentive.  A/S Gordon responded that we must 
not change the process in a way that would be interpreted as 
suggesting an end to NATO enlargement and eliminating MAP 
might do that.  Levitte agreed and added that French 
President Sarkozy was "convinced" that Ukraine would one day 
be a member of NATO, but that there was no point in rushing 
the process and antagonizing Russia, particularly if the 
Ukrainian public was largely against membership.  The 
Bucharest summit declaration was very clear that NATO has an 
open door and Ukraine and Georgia have a vocation in NATO 
(even if Georgia remains very unstable at the moment). 
Levitte added that Paris was very pleased with the ceremony 
on September 9 transferring the Allied Command Transformation 
(ACT) to French General Stephane Abrial. 

-------------------------------- 
VENEZUELA 
-------------------------------- 

13.  (C) Levitte observed that Venezuelan President Hugo 
Chavez is "crazy" and said that even Brazil wasn't able to 
support him anymore.  Unfortunately, Chavez is taking one of 
the richest countries in Latin America and turning it into 
another Zimbabwe. 

14.  (U) Assistant Secretary Gordon has cleared this message. 
RIVKIN

 

http://cablegate.wikileaks.org/cable/2009/09/09PARIS1254.html

 

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

Wikileaks on Mistral sale

US Defense Secretary Robert Gates was pressing French Minister of Defense Herve Morin to rethink the French sale of the amphibious assault ship the Mistral to Russia

 


 

VZCZCXRO4066

RR RUEHSL

DE RUEHFR #0170/01 0431349

ZNY SSSSS ZZH

R 121349Z FEB 10 ZDK

FM AMEMBASSY PARIS

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8302

INFO RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC//USDP/ISA/ISA-EURNATO//

RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW 6557

RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO 3937

RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 1783

RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL 0955

RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE

RHMFISS/CDR USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 04 PARIS 000170

NOFORN

SIPDIS

E.O. 12598  DECL: 02/12/20

TAGS: PREL MOPS MAR FR IR AF NATO

SUBJECT:  SECDEF GATES’S MEETING WITH FRENCH MINISTER OF DEFENSE HERVE

MORIN, FEBRUARY 8, 2010.

PARIS 00000170  001.2 OF 004

Classified By: Alexander Vershbow, ASD/ISA. Reasons 1.4 (b/d).

Ref: USNATO 56

1. (S/NF) SUMMARY:  Secretary of Defense Robert Gates (SecDef) was

hosted by French Minister of Defense Herve Morin for a working lunch

during an official bilateral visit to Paris on February 8, 2010.

SecDef and Morin agreed on the basic themes to be included in NATO’s

revised Strategic Concept.  On Missile Defense, SecDef refuted Morin’s

contention that a European Missile Defense system is both unwise and

unnecessary but pledged to give France and other Allies better

information on the costs and command and control structure of the U.S.

proposal.  Both Morin and Gates agreed that Iran’s rejection of an

engagement track meant that the time for pressure had arrived, but both

noted concern over China’s opposition to a new UN Security Council

Resolution (UNSCR).  On Afghanistan, SecDef praised French

contributions and highlighted ongoing trainer shortfalls.  SecDef

raised U.S. concerns over the sale of a Mistral-class helicopter

carrier to Russia as sending a mixed signal to both Russia and our

Central and East European Allies.  Morin refuted this idea, arguing

that the sale was a way to send a message of partnership to Russia at a

critical time.  Morin requested that the upcoming U.S. Air Force

Request for Proposal (RFP) for a new in-flight refueling tanker

aircraft be unbiased.  SecDef told Morin that he had full confidence

that the RFP would be as fair as possible.   END SUMMARY.

———————-

NATO Strategic Concept

———————-

2. (S/NF) Morin welcomed SecDef to France and asked about U.S positions

regarding the revised NATO Strategic Concept.  Morin noted France’s

interest in a document that would inject new ideas, be adopted with

great momentum, and define NATO’s roles and missions. It should not

just be a restatement of the conventional wisdom.

3. (S/NF) SecDef told Morin he favored a short document that was

perhaps three to five pages in length.  The Strategic Concept should

move NATO from a traditional defensive alliance to a security alliance

that can address a wide range of global threats.  SecDef said that the

Strategic Concept must better align resources with NATO’s level of

ambition; it must lay out a comprehensive approach to civil-military

cooperation and enhance partnerships with the EU, UN and other

international organizations.  SecDef concluded that, above all,

financial and broader structural reform must be pursued — either as

part of the Strategic Concept or in parallel.

4. (S/NF) Morin agreed on length and the need for NATO to take on new

missions, but he wondered what types of missions members had in mind.

Cyber attacks?  Terrorism?  Proliferation?  Missile Defense?  Morin

also stated his belief that NATO needed to bring some clarity to its

area of operation so that NATO did not end up extending to the Pacific.

He added that, in his view, extending the Alliance to Georgia would

weaken Article 5.  SecDef stated his preference for NATO to focus its

efforts in the Euro-Atlantic area, perhaps extending into the

Mediterranean.  He concurred with Morin that a bigger Alliance posed

challenges.

5. (S//NF) Morin told SecDef that the UK MoD had proposed drafting a

joint French-UK proposal on NATO reform to then present to the U.S.

Noting that the objective was to overcome blockages from those

countries that had underwhelming General Staffs, Morin asked whether

SecDef thought it would be better for Europe to build consensus at home

and work its own ideas, or for Europe and the United States to develop

joint proposals.  SecDef replied that he thought it best not to have

two proposals, but that he would consult with SecState.  He also said

he hoped that the Senior Officials Group would come up with some

concrete and viable ideas for reform.

—————

Missile Defense

—————

6. (S/NF) Morin, having expressed strong reservations to new U.S. and

NATO missile defense (MD) plans at the NATO ministerial in Istanbul

(reftel), said he wanted to explain how France sees MD and raise some

questions.  First, he believes that the shift from Theater Missile

Defense (TMD) to defense of populations and territory will give publics

a false sense of security, since the sword was ultimately stronger than

the shield.  For France, security came from strong defense and

deterrence.  Second, Morin asked what threat the system aims to

counter.  Nuclear states or rogue states?  Third, Morin asked about

funding and how European countries would participate in command and

control (C2) decisions.  Morin summarized his own personal opposition

to MD by asserting that the U.S. and Europe have differing mentalities

on defense spending.  He said the U.S. has true resiliency with

PARIS 00000170  002.2 OF 004

“infinite” means, while in Europe defense spending has collapsed in

every country but the UK and France.  As a result, any development

needing common funding will dilute the already weak European defenses.

Morin concluded by stating that it was folly to assume that MD would

give us added security.

7. (S/NF) SecDef refuted Morin’s arguments, pointing out that MD

contributes to deterrence.  SecDef explained to Morin that the system

was aimed at nations with a handful of nuclear weapons and a limited

but growing missile capability to launch them.  Noting Iran fits that

profile, SecDef said that MD provides a good deterrent against limited

attacks.

8. (S/NF) SecDef agreed with MoD Morin that the U.S. owed NATO answers

on C2, costs, and the role of common funding.  He pledged to provide

more details on these issues, as well as on how ALTBMD and the U.S.

Phased Adaptive Approach (PAA) fit together.  However, SecDef said it

was important to move ahead with the MD study that was endorsed at the

2009 NATO summit, since it would provide some of the answers France was

seeking.  SecDef reminded Morin that POTUS will want to obtain a

decision affirming the Alliance role in MD at the Lisbon summit in late

2010.

9. (S/NF) Responding to SecDef’s discussion of MD, Morin asked why

there was a need to shift from theater to population defense.  SecDef

said the systems the U.S. was deploying have broader applications.  For

example the THAAD system, which the U.S. had deployed to Hawaii as a

measure against North Korean threat, protects both the theater and the

population.  Gates offered the Aegis ship-borne SM-3, which was used to

shoot down a defunct satellite, as a second example of a system that

could also have broader applications and deter Iran from holding us

hostage by threatening missile launches.

10. (S/NF) Recalling that Russian Prime Minister Putin once told him

Iran was Russia’s greatest threat, SecDef noted that Russia could plug

into the new system.  SecDef highlighted two Russian objections to the

former system:  first, the radar in the Czech Republic would have been

so powerful that it could see into Russia; second, Russia believed that

the three-stage Ground-Based Interceptor could have been converted

easily to an offensive weapon.  The SM-3 missiles in the new approach

can only be defensive in nature, however.  For these reasons, the U.S.

believed partnering with Russia is once again potentially possible.

(NOTE:  Following the meetings, Morin’s critical comments on Missile

Defense were disavowed by senior officials at the MoD and the MFA, who

said that his views were his own and that the U.S. should essentially

“erase” what he had just said.  END NOTE.)

—–

Iran

—–

11. (S/NF) Shifting from Missile Defense to Iran, SecDef noted that

Russia is now of a different mind on Iran because of Tehran’s

persistent rejection of international proposals for negotiated

solutions and its concealment of the Qom facility.  SecDef believed

Russia would be supportive of a new UNSCR, although it may have

different views on the severity of sanctions, but he expressed concern

about China.  SecDef said that Russia could perhaps help on China, but

that securing the support of other non-permanent Security Council

members was also an issue.  In this regard, SecDef told Morin he had

been blunt with Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan, telling him that if

Iran developed nuclear weapons, we were facing two scenarios:  nuclear

proliferation in the Middle East or a regional war (or perhaps both).

12. (S/NF) Morin asked SecDef if he believed Israel had the capability

to strike Iran without U.S. support.  SecDef responded that he didn’t

know if they would be successful, but that Israel could carry out the

operation.  SecDef told Morin that he believed a conventional strike by

any nation would only delay Iranian plans by one to three years, while

unifying the Iranian people to be forever embittered against the

attacker.

13. (S/NF) MoD Morin agreed that China could be problematic on the

UNSCR and queried SecDef how the U.S. believed we could ensure their

vote, especially in light of the upcoming Dalai Lama visit and the U.S.

weapons sale to Taiwan.  SecDef told Morin that because of

Congressionally mandated rules, the U.S. was required to provide

defensive weapons for Taiwan.  He observed that every time the U.S.

makes the sales to Taiwan, the Chinese suspend military-to-military

relations, but only for the short term.

——–

Pakistan

——–

14. (S/NF) Morin expressed doubt about the willingness of the Pakistani

PARIS 00000170  003 OF 004

government to fight extremists at home.  He noted that Karzai had told

the French that if the Pakistan-Afghanistan border were closed, it

would largely solve issues in Afghanistan.  SecDef replied that he had

told the Pakistani government two weeks earlier that Al Qaeda was

helping the Pakistan Taliban to destabilize Pakistan.  SecDef

highlighted the dramatic changes in Pakistan over the past 18 months,

especially in Swat and Bajaur provinces, which offered some hope of

progress.  SecDef said that there was increasing coordination between

U.S. and Pakistani forces across the border.

———–

Afghanistan

———–

15. (S/NF) Turning to Afghanistan, MoD Morin began by stating that

although he had announced an additional 80 trainers, France had also

sent a non-official contribution as well.  (NOTE:  Morin was referring

to a classified deployment of French Special Forces that have a limited

mission to find two kidnapped French journalists. END NOTE.)  France

had also sent an additional deployment of engineers to work exclusively

on the Counter-IED mission.  Morin underscored that France had

significantly increased its contributions in Afghanistan in the past 18

months from 2700 troops to nearly 4000.

16. (S/NF) SecDef said the U.S. understood the domestic situation and

that he would not have pressed France publicly for more forces until

after the March elections.  However SecDef requested that France

strongly consider substantially increasing military and police

trainers.  SecDef said that while he would publicly praise French

troops, which U.S. troops consider terrific fighters, he was fine with

keeping these discussions close hold.

17. (S/NF) Shifting topics, Morin questioned the decision to

specifically name mid-2011 as the start of a withdrawal, which Morin

thought would simply make the Taliban wait it out.  SecDef noted that

whether to set a date for transition had led to one of the most

protracted debates in Washington in recent months.  SecDef had come to

the conclusion, however, that the Afghans needed to be put on notice

that they would need to take responsibility for their own security.  He

pointed out that there is no end date for U.S. involvement; July 2011

is just the beginning of a process.  POTUS was very clear that the

transition would be conditions-based.  Morin agreed with this and urged

that clear benchmarks be set that could reassure public opinion.

SecDef concurred and observed that the U.S. public will not tolerate a

prolonged stalemate.

————–

Russia/Mistral

————–

18. (S/NF) SecDef expressed U.S. concerns about the Mistral sale to

Russia.  He told Morin that because of Sarkozy’s involvement in

brokering a ceasefire in Georgia, which Russia was not fully honoring,

the sale would send the wrong message to Russia and to our Allies in

Central and East Europe.

19. (S/NF) Morin told SecDef pointedly that he had pushed hard for the

sale.  He conceded that it was indeed a warship for power projection.

But Morin asked rhetorically how we can tell Russia we desire

partnership but then not trust them.  Morin told SecDef that he

understood the U.S. position on considering Central and East European

Allies’ concerns about the perceived threat from Russia.  Morin argued,

however, that this single ship would not make any difference with

respect to Russian capabilities, as Russia’s naval production ability

was severely degraded.

20. (S/NF) SecDef replied that U.S. concerns were not about military

capacity but about messaging.  Some allies, because of their past

experiences, are still very concerned with Russia and are not sure how

much to trust the West.  SecDef observed that Russian democracy has

disappeared and the government was an oligarchy run by the security

services.  President Medvedev has a more pragmatic vision for Russia

than PM Putin, but there has been little real change.

————–

KC-X Tanker RFP

————–

21. (S/NF) Morin told SecDef he had one final, but major, topic to

raise, the U.S. contract tender for a new tanker plane.  He asked that

the RFP be issued so that competition was equal for both companies and

there was no bias.  Morin stressed that it was important for our market

economy to be a two-way street.  He told SecDef that if the terms of

competition are unequal, EADS would not submit a bid.

22. (S/NF) SecDef stated his belief that the RFP would be fair.  He

PARIS 00000170  004 OF 004

told Morin that the Air Force had established the requirements.  He

noted that since the previous competition, he had fired both the

civilian and military leaders of the Air Force and that there was a new

person in charge of the Pentagon’s acquisition policy.  SecDef said

that it would be disappointing if EADS did not submit a proposal.

23. (U) SecDef has cleared this cable.  Drafted by OSD Staff.

RIVKIN

 


 

 

 

http://cablegate.wikileaks.org/cable/2010/02/10PARIS170.html