06MOSCOW1324, PRESSING RUSSIA FOR RESTRAINT ON GEORGIA

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MOSCOW1324 2006-02-11 14:37 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO4771
OO RUEHCD RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHLA RUEHMRE RUEHSR
DE RUEHMO #1324/01 0421437
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 111437Z FEB 06 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0553
INFO RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCNOSC/OSCE POST COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 MOSCOW 001324 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/11/2016 
TAGS: PREL MASS PBTS GG RS
SUBJECT: PRESSING RUSSIA FOR RESTRAINT ON GEORGIA 
 
REF: A. DAS BRYZA 2/10 E-MAIL 
     B. MOSCOW 1045 
 
MOSCOW 00001324  001.2 OF 003 
 
 
Classified By: Ambassador William J. Burns.  Reasons:  1.4(B & D). 
 
1.  (C)  Summary:  In a February 9 meeting with Chief of 
Defense General Baluyevskiy, Ambassador Burns urged that 
Russia exercise restraint in its dealings with Georgia. 
Baluyevksiy was blunt in complaining about Georgian demands 
to withdraw peacekeepers from Georgia and charged Tbilisi 
with interference in the implementation of the May 2005 
military withdrawal agreement. 
 
-- Ambassador updated DFM Karasin February 10 on U.S. efforts 
to work with the Georgian leadership to ease tensions, and 
pressed again for Russian restraint.  Karasin repeated 
concerns about possible Georgian Parliament action, but 
acknowledged U.S. efforts and previewed the oral message that 
FM Lavrov planned to send Secretary Rice. 
 
-- During February 9 consultations, DFM Grushko told PDAS 
Volker that the Kosovo settlement would inevitably set a 
precedent for the resolution of Georgia's separatist 
conflicts.  PDAS Volker explained why the U.S. viewed Kosovo 
as a unique situation. 
 
-- MFA 4th CIS Department (Caucasus) Director Kelin provided 
a readout of his February 6-7 talks in Tbilisi -- his message 
was that Russia did not seek to aggravate the situation in 
South Ossetia, but had no intention of withdrawing its 
peacekeepers. 
 
-- DFM Grushko said Moscow was planning on hosting Georgian 
PM Noghaideli at the end of the month and hoped to avoid 
violent incidents in the interim.  He dismissed any role for 
outside peacekeepers or mediators in the South Ossetian 
conflict.  Volker said the U.S. was ready to be helpful -- 
through the OSCE or directly -- to encourage a political 
resolution and urged that Russia continue to engage with 
Georgia on concrete, positive steps for a settlement. 
 
End Summary. 
. 
BALUYEVSKIY AND KARASIN:  GEORGIANS MAKING RASH DEMANDS 
--------------------------------------------- ---------- 
 
2.  (C)  Ambassador Burns met February 9 with General of the 
Army Yuriy Baluyevskiy, Russia's Chief of Defense, to discuss 
military cooperation and regional conflicts (septel).  In the 
meeting, Baluyevskiy was blunt in charging the Georgian 
leadership with making "irrational" demands and interfering 
with the implementation of the May 2005 agreement to withdraw 
Russian forces from Georgia.  Turning to Russian peacekeepers 
serving in South Ossetia, he complained about Georgian 
demands to withdraw the forces.  The Ambassador urged that 
Russia exercise restraint and work to maintain stability, 
noting that we had the same message for the Georgians. 
Baluyevskiy argued that independence for Kosovo would have a 
direct bearing on the Abkhaz and South Ossetia conflicts. 
 
3.  (C)  In a separate conversation on February 10, the 
Ambassador updated DFM Grigoriy Karasin on U.S. efforts to 
work with the Georgian leadership to ease tensions, and 
pressed again for Russian restraint.  Karasin repeated 
concerns about possible Georgian Parliament action, but 
acknowledged U.S. efforts and previewed the oral message that 
FM Lavrov planned to send Secretary Rice (ref a).  The 
Ambassador strongly encouraged Karasin to take maximum 
advantage of upcoming visits to Moscow by Georgian State 
Minister for Separatist Conflicts Khaindrava and PM 
Noghaideli. 
. 
GRUSHKO:  KOSOVO AS PRECEDENT 
----------------------------- 
 
4.  (C)  During February 9 consultations in Moscow with DFM 
Aleksandr Grushko (other topics septel), PDAS Kurt Volker 
emphasized the importance of continued, direct engagement 
between Moscow and Tbilisi.  The U.S. was concerned that 
Moscow's views on Georgia's territorial integrity had 
shifted, particularly in light of disagreements in the UN 
Security Council over the UNOMIG mandate rollover and 
high-level statements about the precedential value of a 
Kosovo settlement.  Volker explained why the U.S. viewed 
Kosovo as unique; attempts to equate the resolution of that 
situation with other frozen conflicts had serious, 
far-reaching implications.  Regarding Abkhazia and South 
Ossetia, Volker said, the U.S. was encouraging Georgia to 
engage constructively with Russia, to focus on political 
rather than military solutions, and to step up political and 
economic reforms supporting a settlement. 
 
 
MOSCOW 00001324  002.2 OF 003 
 
 
5.  (C)  DFM Grushko claimed Russia had not changed it basic 
position on Kosovo, but said it was obvious "in real life" 
that the resolution of Kosovo would set a precedent.  It 
would be difficult to argue that Kosovo was unique; Russia's 
policy in this case was reflected in President Putin's 
January 31 press conference statement.  (NOTE:  Putin asked 
rhetorically in the press conference why South Ossetia and 
Abkhazia could not be independent if Kosovo was given 
independence). 
 
6.  (C)  As to the deletion of references to the Boden paper 
in the UNOMIG renewal, Grushko argued that the Abkhaz had 
never accepted the paper.  MFA 4th CIS Department (Caucasus) 
Director Andrey Kelin added that Russia supported Georgia's 
territorial integrity (Comment:  Without further defining 
that term).  He noted that the February Friends of Georgia 
meeting in Geneva had referred to the Boden paper, but had 
recalled as well other settlement proposals (such as the plan 
put forward by former PM and FM Yevgeniy Primakov).  Grushko 
urged that instead of pursuing "fruitless" arguments over 
final status issues, Tbilisi should follow through on 
Saakashvili's three-step UNGA proposal to build trust with 
the Abkhaz.  Abkhaz "President" Bagasph was under political 
pressure from the Abkhaz people as well because he was seen 
as too accommodating; Georgia needed to provide security 
guarantees and work on economic joint projects to build ties. 
 
. 
KELIN IN TBILISI:  MAKING IT TO THE END OF FEBRUARY 
--------------------------------------------- ------ 
 
7.  (C)  Director Kelin briefed on his February 6-7 talks in 
Tbilisi with the Georgian government, characterizing his trip 
as being prompted by the "artificial" situation created by 
Georgian legislation mandating parliamentary review of the 
status of Russian peacekeepers in South Ossetia.  Kelin 
spelled out Moscow's message:  Russia does not want to 
aggravate the situation, but Moscow will not withdraw Russian 
forces from the conflict zone and "abandon" the South 
Ossetians -- this would lead to fighting.  Russia assumed the 
Georgian Parliament --  perhaps after some delays -- would 
demand the withdrawal of the Russians.  The key question for 
Moscow would be how Saakashvili would handle this demand. 
Georgia could choose to use violence to try to achieve its 
aims or could pursue the path of discussion and negotiation. 
 
8.  (C)  Kelin said he found at least some interlocutors in 
Georgia who were prepared to pursue a political path, 
particularly State Minister for Separatist Conflicts Minister 
Khaindrava.  Khaindrava was prepared to attend a proposed 
February 21 JCC meeting in Vienna to discuss elements of the 
Saakashvili and Kokoity proposals on South Ossetia.  Russia 
was planning to host Georgian PM Noghaideli in Moscow 
February 27-28 to continue discussions on South Ossetia and 
perhaps initial a technical agreement implementing Russia's 
decision to withdraw it forces from some Georgian bases. 
Kelin said there were opportunities to make progress if the 
parties could avoid violence until the end of February. 
Georgia and Russia had agreed to maintain silence and avoid 
provocations until then, but this would be difficult, Kelin 
stressed, if Georgia continued to take steps like the 
February 8 arrest of Russian peacekeepers for visa violations. 
. 
MFA:  NO TO OUTSIDE PEACEKEEPERS OR MEDIATORS 
--------------------------------------------- 
 
9.  (C)  DFM Grushko said the Russian peacekeepers were in 
South Ossetia to carry out a mandated task of keeping the 
peace -- they were not present to bring about a political 
settlement.  He dismissed what he called Tbilisi's argument 
that the replacement of Russian peacekeepers with others 
would lead to peace and reunification.  Grushko said Russia 
had a "very negative" view of a multinational peacekeeping 
force in Georgia, arguing that what was needed was a 
political solution, not a change of peacekeepers.  Kelin was 
similarly dismissive about suggestions that other OSCE 
members, including the U.S., become involved in the JCC 
process, arguing that it would be unhelpful and that Georgia 
and South Ossetia needed to resolve their problems directly. 
Volker noted that Russian actions -- issuing passports and 
allowing Russians to serve in the South Ossetian 
administration -- created a direct role for Russia that had 
to be taken into account.  He said the U.S. was ready to be 
helpful -- through the OSCE or directly -- to encourage a 
political settlement. 
 
10.  (C)  Grushko reiterated Kelin's hopes that violence 
could be avoided before PM Noghaideli was scheduled to arrive 
in late-February.  He agreed that "reasonable" Georgians 
wanted to pursue a political solution, but said that while 
Georgians might want to live in a unified stated, Georgia was 
doing little to make unification attractive to separatists. 
 
MOSCOW 00001324  003.2 OF 003 
 
 
Volker disagreed, noting that Georgia was focused on 
political and economic reform and integration into 
Euro-Atlantic institutions.  He stressed the importance of 
Russia's direct engagement with the Georgians, focusing on 
concrete steps for a settlement and avoiding unilateral 
actions. 
 
11.  (C)  PDAS Volker did not have the opportunity to clear 
this message. 
BURNS

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