06MOSCOW1635, GEORGIA-RUSSIA: AMBASSADOR PRESSES DFM KARASIN FOR

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MOSCOW1635 2006-02-18 06:55 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO1944
OO RUEHDBU
DE RUEHMO #1635/01 0490655
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 180655Z FEB 06
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1021
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 MOSCOW 001635 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/17/2016 
TAGS: PREL MARR MOPS GG RS
SUBJECT: GEORGIA-RUSSIA: AMBASSADOR PRESSES DFM KARASIN FOR 
CONSTRUCTIVE RUSSIAN STEPS 
 
REF: A) TEFFT/BURNS TELCON 2/17 B) MOSCOW 1536 C) 
 
     TBILISI 329 D) TBILISI 283 AND PREVIOUS 
 
Classified By: Ambassador William J. Burns.  Reason 1.4 (b, d) 
 
1. (C)  SUMMARY.  Ambassador on February 17 outlined to DFM 
Karasin ongoing U.S. efforts to encourage Georgian restraint 
on South Ossetia, and urged Russia to act constructively. 
Ambassador expressed appreciation for FM Lavrov's recent 
message to the Secretary, and said he expected a formal reply 
shortly.  Karasin acknowledged U.S. efforts with the 
Georgians and called for continued cooperation between the 
U.S. and Russia.  Ambassador stressed the need for 
communication:  a JCC meeting and a successful visit by 
Georgian PM Noghaideli.  Karasin stuck to Russia's insistence 
on a meeting in Moscow (perhaps not of the JCC per se) as a 
preparation for the PM's visit -- which he said was still 
"firmly" on the calendar.  Ambassador stressed that Russia 
should reciprocate Georgian confidence-building measures, 
both to strengthen the hand of moderates in Tbilisi and also 
to boost America's credibility in influencing the Georgians. 
Ambassador and Karasin also discussed Black Sea Fleet 
negotiations with Ukraine and elections in Belarus.  END 
SUMMARY. 
 
U.S. Position 
------------- 
 
2. (C)  Ambassador outlined ongoing U.S. efforts with Georgia 
and pushed DFM Karasin for similar restraint and constructive 
Russian steps.  He noted that he expected to be able to 
convey a reply from the Secretary to FM Lavrov's recent 
message shortly, but wanted in the meantime to review our 
main concerns.  He added that we are concerned that emotions 
are running high on all sides of the South Ossetia issue.  We 
needed to strengthen the moderate voices in Tbilisi, and to 
do so it was important to get the parties to engage in the 
JCC that had been scheduled for Vienna.  We understood that 
Russia now wanted to change the venue to Moscow, and possibly 
to lower the level to that of deputy Co-Chairs, but we also 
understood that the Georgians are not interested in either 
variant.  We hoped that Moscow would reconsider its 
insistence on a Moscow JCC.  If it turned out to be premature 
to hold a JCC it might unfortunately make more sense to take 
some time out.  We very much hoped, though, that Georgian PM 
Noghaideli's visit would take place.  Noghaideli's was one of 
the moderate voices that needed to be strengthened, and the 
visit could do some good. 
 
3. (C)  Ambassador said the U.S. and Europeans had pushed 
Georgia hard on unilateral confidence-building measures in 
demilitarization.  The Georgians had agreed to take many of 
these CBMs.  We urged Russia to consider steps of its own, 
for example withdrawing forces and equipment unlawfully 
present in the Zone of Conflict, and allowing international 
monitoring of the Roki Tunnel.  Such moves would contribute 
to easing tensions and would strengthen some voices in 
Georgia that needed to show moderation was an effective 
strategy.  It also added to U.S. credibility when we urged 
moderation on the Georgians. 
 
Russian Response 
---------------- 
 
4. (C)  Karasin replied that Lavrov greatly appreciated his 
communication with the Secretary and highly valued the level 
of mutual trust they have developed, which had shown results. 
 Russia perceived the effects of U.S. influence on the 
Georgian leadership, which has had concrete results.  The 
Resolution adopted by the Georgian Parliament on February 15 
was qualitatively different from the one adopted in October 
of last year -- softer in tone, and not as categorical. 
Russia knew of Ambassador Tefft's work in Tbilisi, and the 
close cooperation of Ambassador Kenyaikin (who was sitting 
next to Karasin) with DAS Bryza. 
 
5. (C)  With regard to the JCC, Karasin said, the situation 
was "interesting."  Public opinion and the mood of Russia's 
political class had changed qualitatively following the 
Georgian resolution.  In such a climate, he said, "We cannot 
go far from the centers of decisionmaking."  Vienna is not 
the place to hold such a meeting.  This was discussed 
February 16 with Georgian State Minister Khaindrava, and the 
proposal was being considered in Tbilisi.  Russia had not yet 
received an answer from Georgia.  Moscow would provide a 
better nurturing of the political atmosphere than anywhere in 
Europe.  Kenyaikin added that given the new situation, the 
Russians would have to convene a meeting in Moscow anyway, 
even if the Georgians absented themselves and only the North 
and South Ossetians attended.  Karasin said that a possible 
solution might be a "consultation" with the JCC Co-Chairs -- 
 
MOSCOW 00001635  002 OF 003 
 
 
not a meeting of the JCC itself -- in Moscow as one part of 
the preparations for the Noghaideli visit. 
 
6. (C)  As to the Noghaideli visit, Karasin said, it was 
still "firmly" on the calendar -- though of course a week was 
a long time in Georgian politics.  If a m
eeting of JCC chairs 
took place first, the visit would flow more naturally and 
have a greater chance of success, he added.  Karasin's 
presentation was punctuated by a long discursus from 
Kenyaikin on the "consistently hardening position" of Georgia 
over the last year and a half, and the "consistently more 
open position" of Kokoity during that time. 
 
Stressing the Fundamentals 
-------------------------- 
 
7. (C)  Ambassador answered Karasin's points by stressing 
that there are two separate but related issues:  one is the 
issue of process and venue, and the other was finding modest, 
concrete steps that would help defuse tensions and promote a 
settlement.  CBMs from the Russian side would encourage 
Georgia to set aside its suspicions of Moscow.  Kenyaikin 
engaged in another discursus on an "un-noticed" CBM already 
in effect, the process of mutual inspections.  Both sides 
have allowed inspections of their deployments, and when one 
excess "Zenit" air defense system was found in the South 
Ossetian holdings, it was withdrawn.  The Georgians were 
looking for CBMs such as the removal of trenches.  Kenyaikin 
was sure that talks with Kokoity would be productive. 
Kenyaikin looked forward to meeting in Tskhinvali with 
Ambassadors to Georgia from the U.S., UK, France and Germany 
-- after the JCC meeting. 
 
8. (C)  Karasin finished the Russian response by saying that 
a gradual, step-by-step approach was the best, despite 
Georgian desire to accomplish everything at once.  A meeting 
in Moscow, he said, would be one important step.  Ambassador 
said the U.S. will continue its dialogue with Georgia, and 
repeated our hope that PM Noghaideli would have a successful 
visit and that Russia would implement its own CBMs. 
 
9. (C) Later on February 17, Ambassador reviewed the same 
points with Russian Security Council Deputy Nikolay Spasskiy. 
 Ambassador also discussed state of play with German, UK, and 
French Ambassadors, urging them also to weigh in with the GOR. 
 
Black Sea Fleet 
--------------- 
 
10. (C)  Ambassador asked Karasin for a readout on the Black 
Sea Fleet talks in Ukraine February 14.  Karasin said they 
had been timely and useful.  The last such meeting had been 
two and a half years before.  All basic issues had been 
settled back in 1997, but a number of secondary issues had 
built up since then, such as how the personnel would live, 
how weaponry would be moved, and standards for inventories. 
They set up five working groups that would start work in 
March.  The work had been professional, and had removed 
"nervousness and emotionality:  slowly, common sense is 
coming to the surface."  Karasin ventured a few observations 
on the upcoming Rada elections -- that the Party of Regions 
seems a little ahead, but that the electorate is very 
changeable. 
 
Belarus Elections 
----------------- 
 
11. (C)  Ambassador asked about the elections in Belarus, 
noting that A/S Fried had still not been allowed to visit. 
Karasin regretted this, because it would have been 
interesting both for the Belarusians and Americans.  He had 
himself been surprised to find that Belarus was not the 
"horrible totalitarian regime" it had been billed as, and he 
thought that when things quieted down after the elections, 
Lukashenka would lead the political process in the "right 
direction."  Ambassador noted that that would show instincts 
that Lukashenka has concealed very effectively so far. 
 
Comment 
------- 
 
12. (C)  Karasin gave no indication that the Russians will go 
to Vienna for the next JCC meeting, at least not in February. 
 They seem dug in on this.  Our best course, it appears from 
here, is to allow the JCC to take some time out (which would 
have no material effect on the peace process) and push 
hardest to ensure that the Noghaideli visit goes through.  We 
have to recognize that the warnings about provocative 
confrontations on the ground could take material shape at any 
time, and we should continue to press the Georgians as hard 
as we can not to rise to the bait.  In the meantime, we will 
 
MOSCOW 00001635  003 OF 003 
 
 
keep pushing here for Russia to show that it too is capable 
of acting responsibly. 
BURNS

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