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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MOSCOW1637 2006-02-20 10:07 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

O 201007Z FEB 06

C O N F I D E N T I A L  MOSCOW 001637 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/20/2014 
REF: A. MOSCOW 1323 
     B. MOSCOW 
Classified By: Minister-Counselor for Political Affiars 
Kirk Augustine, for reasons 1.4 (B & D) 
1. (C)  SUMMARY.  A/DCM met February 17 with MFA Middle East 
and North Africa Director Sergey Vershinin to follow up on 
earlier discussion (reftel) on the forthcoming visit of a 
Hamas delegation to Russia, which will take place March 3. 
2. (C)  Timing and Level.  Vershinin noted that an MFA 
announcement had said the Hamas visit would take place "at 
the beginning of March," but he could not yet provide a 
specific date.  He was confident, howevere, that it would 
take place before FM Lavrov's March 6-7 visit to Washington. 
(Note.  In a separate telcon, Russian Middle East envoy 
Aleksandr Kalugin told Ambassador the Hamas visit was now 
expected to take place March 3.  End Note)  A final decision 
had not yet been taken, Vershinin said, about the level at 
which the Hamas delegation would be received, but he expected 
the "substantive" discussions to be led on the Russian side 
by DFM Saltanov.  (Comment.  We expect FM Lavrov will also 
meet with the Hamas delegation, especially in light of the 
February 16 meeting of Turkish FM Gul with a Hamas delegation 
led by Khaled Mashaal.  End Comment) 
3. (C)  Purpose.  Vershinin said Russia would use the visit 
to present Quartet views to Hamas unequivocally, and would 
inform the U.S. shortly thereafter of the results of the 
discussions.  He repeatedly stressed the GOR's desire to 
bring about acceptance by Hamas of a "continuity of 
Palestinian obligations."  Although the Russian mission in 
Ramallah had had some contacts with Hamas members holding 
positions in the Palestinian Authority, such meetings had 
dealt with them as local government officials, not as Hamas 
representatives.  The Moscow visit would provide the first 
contact between Russia and Hamas "at a decision-making 
level."  Asked whether Russia had consulted with Palestinian 
Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) about the Hamas 
visit, Vershinin said only that Abu Mazen was "positive" 
about the visit. 
4. (C)  Russia did not conceive the forthcoming discussions 
as "negotiations," but rather as an opportunity to influence 
internal Hamas thinking towards accepting the continuity of 
Palestinian obligations.  He believed there had already been 
"many contradictions" in Hamas' approach, and it was now 
confronting a new reality that would inevitably put more 
stress on a disparate membership.  Many Hamas members were 
"pragmatists who do not live in the sky."  Asked whether the 
GOR had considered how it would react if initial meetings 
with Hamas led to no evolution in its positions, Vershinin 
said Russia was taking a "realistic" approach.  Hamas would, 
at best, not change "overnight."  The meeting in Moscow was 
not a one-off event from which immediate results were 
expected, but rather the start of a process. 
5. (C)  Assistance.  A/DCM noted a February 13 interview with 
Russian UN Permrep Denisov, who had said that "any ban on the 
provision of international financial assistance to the 
Palestinians would be counterproductive," and asked how such 
statements related to the Quartet's agreement that future 
assistance to any new (Palestinian) government would be 
reviewed by donors" against its commitment to nonviolence, 
recognition of Israel and acceptance of prior Palestinian 
obligations.  Vershinin said it was not clear yet what the 
composition or policies of the new Palestinian government 
would be.  It would be up to every donor to review those 
developments and to determine whether it would stop or reduce 
its assistance, or differentiate in its humanitarian, 
financial and military assistance.  This was a subject for 
discussion within the Quartet. 
6. (C)  Vershinin acknowledged the February 16 public 
statement of Yuriy Baluyevskiy, Chief of the Russian General 
Staff, who had said that delivery of military goods would be 
put on hold until the new Palestinian government was 
constituted, after which decisions would be made.  Vershinin 
agreed that the provision of any military assistance would 
"depend on the evolution of the situation" -- and, he added, 
the views of the Israeli government.  Russia would not 
provide assistance that would undermine Israel's security. 
(Note.  Russian Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister 
Sergey Ivanov told the press February 17 that "any supply of 
(military) technology to the Palestinians can be implemented 
only with Israel's agreement and through its territory."  End 
7. (C)  Comment.  Like other GOR officials, Vershinin 
insisted that Putin's invitation to Hamas was consistent with 
Quartet undertakings and was intended to promote them.  He 
also stressed that the GOR wants to consult closely with the 
U.S. as the process goes forward.  Referring to the 
Secretary's forthcoming visit to the Middle East, he said it 
would be important for Moscow to have a clear understanding 
of the results of her discussions as the Hamas visit and 
Lavrov's subsequent trip to Washington approach. 


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