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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MOSCOW3202 2006-03-29 14:33 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

DE RUEHMO #3202/01 0881433
P 291433Z MAR 06

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 MOSCOW 003202 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/29/2016 
REF: A. MOSCOW 2974 
     B. MOSCOW 1934 
Classified By: Ambassador William J. Burns.  Reasons:  1.4(B & D). 
1.  (C)  Summary:  Ambassador Burns met with Russian Deputy 
Foreign Minister Grigoriy Karasin March 29 to discuss the 
outcomes of the Belarusian and Ukrainian elections and recent 
developments in Moldova, Georgia, and Nagorno-Karabakh. 
Karasin was sanguine about the March 26 Ukrainian 
parliamentary elections, observing that it would be some time 
before a government would be formed in Kiev, but underlining 
that Russia was interested in pursuing a range of bilateral 
talks.  Karasin welcomed continuing contacts on 
Nagorno-Karabakh and remains interested in a joint visit to 
the region with A/S Fried and an appropriate French 
representative.  Karasin questioned why the West would pursue 
sanctions against Belarus, arguing that Belarus "should be 
allowed to develop on its own terms."  On Georgia, Karasin 
judged the recent JCC meeting productive and noted that 
Russia would likely sign a technical agreement with Georgia 
on the withdrawal from Russian bases on March 31.  He said 
that Russia would hold expert-level talks with Georgia (and 
Moldova) before imposing any ban on wine imports.  Russia was 
ready to participate in Five Plus Two talks involving 
Transnistria he said, but acknowledged that Ukrainian 
participation might be complicated by ongoing talks about 
forming a government.  End Summary. 
2.  (C)  DFM Karasin said that Russia had closely followed 
the Ukrainian parliamentary election campaign and judged it 
to be a "normal" political process which had led to an 
election with no clear winner.  The Ukrainian electorate was 
divided.  Yushchenko's Our Ukraine suffered at the polls 
because of economic developments since the Orange Revolution 
and political infighting, while Yanukovich's Party of Regions 
demonstrated it was a force to be reckoned with in Ukrainian 
politics.  More interesting to Karasin was the strong showing 
by Bloc Yulia Tymoshenko; he thought that the ball would be 
in her court to form a government.  Responding to the 
Ambassador's query about a likely timeline for government 
formation, Karasin likened the situation in Kiev to a play; 
we are now watching the first act, which will be full of 
intrigue, fascinating characters and perhaps some 
unpredictable twists and turns. 
3.  (C)  Karasin said that Russia was looking forward to a 
serious partnership with whatever government was formed 
because of the wide range of political and economic ties 
linking Kiev and Moscow.  Now that the elections were over, 
it was likely that the Putin-Yushchenko bilateral commission 
might finally meet for the first time.  Karasin, who 
co-chairs working group discussions on the Black Sea Fleet, 
said that group had agreed to divide outstanding issues among 
several subgroups, but forecast that the discussions would be 
long and complex, reflecting the interrelated problems that 
need to be sorted out.  In the end, he observed, the 
resolution of these issues will depend on the sprit of the 
4.  (C)  Karasin expressed appreciation for A/S Fried's 
readout of his recent visit to Armenia and Azerbaijan. 
Karasin shares the view that there is an opening for progress 
on Nagaorno-Karabakh that should be tested.  He suggested 
that a joint visit in the next few weeks would be useful, 
noting that "unusual approaches" are sometimes necessary to 
shake up the situation and prod the parties' thinking.  He 
also mentioned that he is planning another trip of his own to 
the South Caucasus in April. 
5.  (C)  Reflecting on Lukashenko's March 19 reelection, 
Karasin said that he shared the views of the majority of the 
Russian political class that Lukashenko was genuinely popular 
among Belarusians.  There were disagreements among 
Belarusians about the course Lukashenko was pursuing, but 
such differences were completely normal in any society. 
Karasin said Russia did not understand efforts in the West to 
use sanctions to punish the Belarusian government -- Minsk 
had no nuclear weapons and was not pursuing dangerous 
activities against its neighbors.  It simply sought to 
develop on its own terms. 
MOSCOW 00003202  002 OF 003 
6.  (C)  The Ambassador underlined that the U.S. and EU had 
been very clear in our views about the conduct of the 
Belarusian election and its aftermath.  Referring to comments 
Karasin had made to U/S Burns and the Ambassador in February 
(ref B), the Ambassador pressed him to explain what steps he 
believed Lukashenko would take now that the  election was 
over to open up
 a political space in Belarus.  Karasin noted 
that Lukashenko had permitted demonstrations and political 
opposition -- up to a point -- and argued that the pace of 
any future opening would depend on Lukashenko, rather than on 
outside pressures. 
7.  (C)  Karasin confirmed that Russia and Belarus would take 
up discussions on gas prices in the near future.  Moscow 
wanted a deal that was profitable, transparent and based on 
market mechanisms.  On Union State negotiations, he did not 
hold out any prospects for a prompt conclusion to talks. 
Karasin noted that Moscow would soon mark the tenth 
anniversary of the opening of discussions and that some 
particularly difficult questions about status remained 
8.  (C)  Turning to Georgia, Karasin was guardedly optimistic 
that bilateral relations had taken a positive turn.  Georgia 
and South Ossetian representatives at the March 27-28 Joint 
Control Committee (JCC) meeting in Vladikavkaz had 
constructive discussions.  Talks about security guarantees 
and economic projects had been positive, Karasin noted.  Any 
JCC meeting, much less one that had seen substantive 
discussions, needed to be viewed as a step forward.  He noted 
that the technical agreement on withdrawing Russian troops 
and bases from Georgia would likely be signed on March 31 in 
9.  (C)  Karasin was direct in raising Russian concerns about 
Georgia's pursuit of NATO membership.  Georgia was now in 
talks with NATO on a Membership Action Plan, while at the 
same time its recently enunciated national security doctrine 
had identified Russia as its most likely military opponent. 
Karasin asked how these two points should be understood.  The 
Ambassador responded by pointing out that Georgia was at the 
early stages in the process of seeking NATO membership and 
that many steps would have to be taken before it could be 
considered for membership.  While this process was ongoing, 
it was important for Russia and NATO members to have candid 
discussions, through the NATO-Russia Council or bilaterally. 
10.  (C)  The Ambassador expressed concern about reported 
remarks made by Gennadiy Bukayev, an aide to PM Fradkov, 
concerning Russian plans to join North and South Ossetia into 
a new entity under Russian control.  Karasin backpedaled, 
explaining that press reports about what Bukayev had said 
perhaps had given an incorrect impression.  Bukayev had been 
discussing economic integration projects in North and South 
Ossetia, and perhaps a distinction between economic and 
political integration had not been made clear.  In any event, 
Bukayev had attended the JCC meeting in Vladikavkaz and would 
thus have been available to provide a personal explanation to 
the Georgian representatives.  Karasin said Russia's policy 
remains that the future of South Ossetia should be settled 
through talks in the existing JCC mechanism. 
11.  (C)  The Ambassador raised reports of a ban by Moscow on 
the import of Georgian and Moldovan wine.  While Karasin said 
that phytosanitary standards were beyond his expertise, he 
claimed that Russia was willing to hold discussions with 
Georgia (and Moldova) at an expert level to explain Russia's 
"technical" decision before the ban went into place.  He 
dismissed reports that Moscow's decision on wine imports was 
tied to possible Russian-Georgian discussions on Russia's WTO 
accession. (Note:  Both the Moldovan and Georgian Embassies 
in Moscow told us March 29 that imports have in fact been 
halted.  Both say they have been unsuccessfully seeking 
meetings at the expert level, with Moldova's Minister of 
Economy in Moscow since March 28, unable to find an 
interlocutor.  End note.) 
12.  (C)  Karasin noted that the "humanitarian" convoy of 
medical supplies Russia had sent to Transnistria had finally 
arrived after extended discussions with Kiev about the 
convoy's progress through Ukraine.  He claimed that the 
shipment had primarily consisted of medicines that were in 
short supply.  He suggested again, as he had to the 
Ambassador last week, that the convoy was a one-shot deal 
aimed less at any real "humanitarian catastrophe" than at 
domestic political opinion in Russia.  On Five Plus Two 
MOSCOW 00003202  003 OF 003 
talks, there had been a "time out" as the parties assessed 
the situation, but this period had now come to an end and 
Russia was ready for productive talks.  Karasin acknowledged 
that Kiev's continuing focus on forming a government might 
lead to complications in moving forward. 
NGO Law 
13.  (C)  Responding to Karasin's question about U.S. 
attitudes towards Russia's NGO laws, the Ambassador stressed 
that implementation of the law would be a critical issue.  He 
suggested the MFA and Justice Ministry be transparent in 
explaining to NGOs and the media the approach the government 
would take in implementing the law. 


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