06MOSCOW1536, RUSSIA-GEORGIA: HARD RUSSIAN LINE ON SOUTH OSSETIA

WikiLeaks Link

To understand the justification used for the classification of each cable, please use this WikiSource article as reference.
Discussing cables
If you find meaningful or important information in a cable, please link directly to its unique reference number. Linking to a specific paragraph in the body of a cable is also possible by copying the appropriate link (to be found at theparagraph symbol).Please mark messages for social networking services like Twitter with the hash tags #cablegate and a hash containing the reference ID e.g. #06MOSCOW1536.
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MOSCOW1536 2006-02-16 18:06 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO0052
OO RUEHDBU
DE RUEHMO #1536/01 0471806
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 161806Z FEB 06
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0861
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 MOSCOW 001536 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/16/2016 
TAGS: PREL MARR MOPS RS GG
SUBJECT: RUSSIA-GEORGIA:  HARD RUSSIAN LINE ON SOUTH OSSETIA 
 
REF: TBILISI 282 
 
Classified By: Acting DCM Kirk Augustine.  Reason 1.4 (b, d) 
 
1. (C)  SUMMARY.  Both the Russians (4th CIS Department 
Director Kelin) and Georgians (State Minister for Conflict 
Resolution Khaindrava) gave us separate readouts of their 
February 16 talks in Moscow.  The talks focused on South 
Ossetia in the wake of the Georgian Parliamentary resolution 
calling for a replacement of the Russian Peacekeeping Force. 
Kelin called for an immediate JCC meeting, but not in Vienna. 
 Khaindrava told us the Russians had demanded that the JCC 
meet in Moscow; he had refused.  Kelin warned that armed 
confrontations are an imminent threat and said the atmosphere 
is not right for unilateral Russian gestures on 
demilitarization, including with regard to the enclave of 12 
Georgian villages north of Tskhinvali.  Khaindrava said 
Georgia has started undertaking all ten demilitarization 
measures recommended by the Quad ambassadors in Tbilisi, and 
warned that Russia is working to build a road that will deny 
the Georgian villages access to Georgian-controlled 
territory.  We pressed the Russians hard to reciprocate 
Georgian gestures, but there appeared to be little appetite 
to do so; we also pressed Khaindrava to moderate Georgian 
rhetoric, and he restrained comments he made to the press in 
our presence.  End summary. 
 
The Next JCC 
------------ 
 
2. (C)  A/DCM called on Kelin February 16 to note the 
restraint in the resolution Georgia's Parliament adopted 
February 15.  He said we had been working hard with the 
Georgians.  He noted that the tone of the Russian MFA 
statement had been relatively restrained.  Kelin replied that 
the Georgian resolution could be interpreted in different 
ways.  Moderates could point out that it set no deadline. 
Hardliners (such as Georgia's Minister of Defense) could 
point to its demand to the GOG to eliminate the Russian 
peacekeepers.  Russia envisaged a meeting of the Joint 
Control Commission (JCC) as soon as possible, but not in 
Vienna as previously planned; it should rather take place 
"much closer to the scene." Asked whether that meant Moscow, 
he said he would not exclude Moscow or any other site.  The 
matter was "under discussion" among the parties. 
 
3.  (C)  In a subsequent conversation with poloff, Khaindrava 
said the Russians had demanded that the JCC take place in 
Moscow so that FM Lavrov could preside over it.  Noting that 
both the Russians and South Ossetians had previously agreed 
to Vienna, Khaindrava said he had categorically rejected that 
proposed change.  His analysis was that Russia wanted to show 
that it was in control of the process.  During our 
conversation, Khaindrava received calls from Tbilisi 
(including from PM Noghaideli) and tried to get the GOG to 
enlist the support of the OSCE Mission to oppose the change 
of JCC venue. 
 
Demilitarization 
---------------- 
 
4. (C)  Kelin said that Khaindrava had concentrated on 
demilitarization, and in particular the outer (South 
Ossetian) trenches surrounding an enclave of 12 Georgian 
villages north of Tskhinvali.  Kelin said the current 
atmosphere did not allow progress on this issue.  To Russia, 
demilitarization meant in the first instance the withdrawal 
of Georgian MPs who were illegally in the zone of conflict, 
and the elimination of unofficial armed formations supporting 
the Georgian cause.  A/DCM asked who would be responsible for 
civil order if the Georgian MPs were withdrawn; Kelin replied 
that the PKF was mandated to carry out that task.  A/DCM 
asked whether Russia would respond to unilateral Georgian 
demilitarization with any steps of its own, noting that there 
had been talk of having international observers monitor the 
Roki Tunnel and a withdrawal of Russian personnel and 
equipment that did not belong in the zone of conflict.  Would 
Russia help respond to Georgian moves to encourage a positive 
dynamic? 
 
5. (C)  Kelin said he did not believe the time was right to 
discuss such moves.  The main effort had to be to avoid 
confrontations on the ground.  Georgia was on the verge of 
increasing the staff of its peacekeepers (their 600-person 
battalion was now only half-staffed), and it had a brigade 
deployed nearby in Gori.  Kelin said we should bear in mind 
that there was disagreement in Tbilisi between those who 
favor a "mild" approach and those who favored more radical 
action.  He said Khaindrava had asked the Russians to take 
some steps so he could report back to the GOG that Russia had 
made some moves, and therefore the peacekeepers could stay. 
Kelin did not believe that any drawdown of Russian forces 
 
MOSCOW 00001536  002 OF 003 
 
 
could be made in light of current tensions, including recent 
"provocative" incidents staged by Georgian forces. 
 
6. (C)  A/DCM pressed Kelin on whether there were not Russian 
forces and equipment present in the zone of conflict beyond 
what was allowed for the PKF.  Could there be no withdrawals 

of such forces and equipment if the Georgians first took 
confidence-building steps? Kelin responded only that Russia 
had just received an appeal from the South Ossetian 
"Parliament" to remain.  With regard to the Roki Tunnel, that 
was an economic issue that should be discussed along with 
other economic CBMs when there was a "normal climate."  He 
noted that the issue was the placement of border and customs 
posts, and the late Georgian PM Zhvania had agreed to place 
those south of Tskhinvali.  Kelin stated several times that 
the threat of armed confrontation on the ground was immediate 
and had first priority.  As to a peace plan, he regretted 
that the support for a peace process in South Ossetia by the 
U.S. Secretary of State and Russian Foreign Minister at 
Ljubljana, and the endorsement of that support by the OSCE 
Ministerial, was interpreted by some to mean support for a 
particular peace proposal (i.e., Saakashvili's plan).  The 
JCC would need to develop a workplan drawing from both 
Saakashvili's and Kokoity's plans. 
 
7. (C)  On those issues Khaindrava told us that Georgia has 
already started implementing all ten of the demilitarization 
CBMs proposed by the Quad Ambassadors in Tbilisi.  One of 
those was filling out Georgia's quota of the PKF battalion. 
Khaindrava noted that with so many of Georgia's troops 
deployed to Iraq, Georgia would be able to raise its PKF 
staffing only to 400 (of the 600 allowed).  With regard to 
the enclave villages, Khaindrava said Russia was hard at work 
building a road west of the villages, "with money provided by 
Luzhkov," that would, if controlled by Ossetians, allow the 
villagers to be denied access to the rest of Georgia. 
Nonetheless, Georgia would carry out all ten demilitarization 
recommendations.  Asked whether Georgia had made an 
announcement to that effect, Khaindrava replied, "No.  We 
will announce them after we have carried them out." 
 
Avoiding Confrontations, Provocations 
------------------------------------- 
 
8. (C)  A/DCM noted to Kelin the emphasis the Russian 
statement had put on preserving "existing mechanisms," and 
asked whether there were specific steps that Russia was 
looking for from Georgia now to improve the atmosphere. 
Kelin replied that the JCC would establish what needed to be 
done.  A/DCM said we believed the efforts of Ambassador Tefft 
and other USG officials had had an effect in moderating the 
parliamentary resolution and restraining Georgian rhetoric. 
We had found our dialogues with Special Envoy Kenyaikin 
useful.  Kelin said Russia appreciated the U.S. and European 
efforts, but was not convinced that the excesses had in fact 
been reined in.  There had been serious provocations on the 
ground.  "Our people will not stand idle if there is an 
outbreak of violence."  He hoped that the U.S. would warn the 
Georgian side of the dangers of the situation.  A/DCM 
reiterated that we were urging moderation to all parties, but 
we understood the Georgian sense of frustration with the lack 
of progress on ending the conflict.  Russia needed to 
identify those forces within the Georgian government who 
favored a constructive resolution and provide them arguments 
they could use to oppose more militant approaches.  The U.S. 
would continue to do everything possible to tone down the 
rhetoric and encourage a peaceful resolution. 
 
9. (C)  Poloff later reiterated the need for restraint to 
Khaindrava, and when he received a call from a Russian press 
agency he answered it, in our presence, in an extremely 
restrained way.  He said he expected that there would be 
provocations -- specifically, that the Ossetians would start 
to demarcate their border with electric wire.  Georgia could 
not stand idly by if there were attacks on Georgian citizens 
in the enclave within South Ossetia, but other than that he 
would work to see that Georgia was not lured into reacting to 
provocations.  His final analysis, though, was that the 
Russians would do anything to protect the status quo. 
 
Further Talks? 
-------------- 
 
10. (C)  Khaindrava said he was scheduled to meet DFM Karasin 
February 17, but doubted the meeting would take place after 
his refusal to accept a Moscow venue for the JCC.  Likewise, 
he said the Russians had told him that PM Noghaideli's visit 
to Moscow, scheduled for February 27, would be doubtful if 
the JCC meeting did not take place in Moscow. 
 
11. (C)  When A/DCM asked Kelin about the current 
responsibilities of MFA envoys dealing with Georgia, Kelin 
 
MOSCOW 00001536  003 OF 003 
 
 
confirmed that Special Envoy Kenyaikin had taken over 
Ambassador Savolskiy's portfolio of military negotiations 
(including some with Ukraine) and supervising special 
ambassadors.  He also confirmed that Ambassador Lev Mironov, 
who suffered a stroke during the Ljubljana OSCE Ministerial, 
had returned to Moscow but remained in a medicial institute. 
The process of nominating successors to realign all relevant 
responsibilities, he said, was not complete.  Khaindrava said 
he had been introduced to Kenyaikin's successor, but "forgot 
his name."  (He promised to get us the name on February 17.) 
 
Comment 
------- 
 
12. (C)  We read the Russian move to change the venue of the 
JCC as being in the first instance a reaction to the "threat" 
that the composition of the JCC -- or the PKF -- might be 
changed to include more westerners.  Kelin's warnings about 
the immediate danger of armed confrontations appeared 
intended to justify the need to maintain current Russian 
force levels.  In its demand to host the next JCC meeting in 
Moscow, Russia is performing a bit of diplomatic ju jitsu to 
use the force of Georgia's parliamentary resolution against 
Georgia itself, and ideally to come out of it with even 
greater Russian control over the process.  We would recommend 
the the U.S. remind the Moscow that there was substanial 
debate about the venue for the JCC meeting, and Vienna was 
chosen as a result of delicate negotiations led by Russia 
itself.  Russia and Georgia should concentrate on the issues 
at hand:  demilitarization, renunciation of the use of force, 
economic rehabilitation, and a workplan over which both 
Georgians and Ossetians can take ownership. 
BURNS

Wikileaks

Advertisements
Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: