06MOSCOW3510, RUSSIAN VIEWS ON POST-ELECTION UKRAINE

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MOSCOW3510 2006-04-04 10:57 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO1494
PP RUEHDBU
DE RUEHMO #3510/01 0941057
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 041057Z APR 06
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3583
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 003510 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/03/2016 
TAGS: PREL PGOV ENRG RS UP
SUBJECT: RUSSIAN VIEWS ON POST-ELECTION UKRAINE 
 
REF: A. MOSCOW 3202 
     B. MOSCOW 1934 
     C. MOSCOW 930 
     D. MOSCOW 3388 
 
Classified By: Charge d'Affaires Daniel A. Russell.  Reasons: 1.4(B/D). 
 
1. (C)  Summary.  A week after the Ukrainian election results 
were announced, reactions in Russia vary widely.  Officially, 
Moscow has been neutral, while the media has buzzed with 
speculation about the new government's formation and 
especially Tymoshenko's possible role.  Russian pundits are 
concerned that Ukraine remains on a path toward accession to 
NATO.  Unofficial contacts underscored the view that Russia 
lacks a cogent policy toward Ukraine, outside of energy 
politics and short-term business interests (which, they 
argued, often amount to the same thing).  After the new 
government's formation, we expect Moscow to pursue its 
economic interests pragmatically while trying to stymie 
Kiev's NATO aspirations and casting about for more effective 
ways to salvage its own eroding influence in Ukraine. 
Underlying Russia's policy will be a continued propensity to 
see Ukrainian developments through an East-West prism and a 
continued reluctance to recognize the birth of an independent 
Ukrainian national consciousness.  End Summary. 
 
Views on the Elections 
------------------------------- 
 
2. (C)  In a phone call to Yushchenko on March 29, Putin spun 
the elections as having reflected "Ukrainian citizens' desire 
to develop relations with Russia in all areas."  The MFA had 
spoken in a similar tone March 28, saying that the citizens 
of Ukraine "made their choice" and made clear their desire to 
"develop and deepen relations of good neighborliness and 
partnership with Russia."  In a meeting with the Ambassador 
March 29 (ref A), DFM Karasin called the election process 
"normal" and said it had resulted in no clear winner and 
considerable unknowns in how a government could be formed. 
Yushchenko had suffered from economic developments since the 
Orange Revolution and political infighting, Karasin said, 
while Yanukovich's Party of Regions had demonstrated it was a 
force to reckon with.  Tymoshenko's strong showing put the 
ball in her court for forming a government, but that would 
take time.  Karasin added that Russia was in any event 
looking for a serious partnership with Ukraine and predicted 
the Putin-Yushchenko Commission would soon be more active. 
 
3. (C)  Ukraine Desk Senior Counselor Vyacheslav Yelagin also 
highlighted to us Russia's "strategic partnership" with 
Ukraine and explained the MFA's bland statement by claiming 
that 12 percent of Ukraine's registered voters had not been 
permitted to cast a ballot.  Would the West have overlooked 
that irregularity, he asked, had the election taken place in 
Russia?  In contrast, Ukrainian Charge in Moscow Leonid 
Osavolyuk told the DCM March 29 that the Russian MFA's 
official reaction to Ukraine's parliamentary election was not 
satisfactory:  "Practically the entire rest of the world 
congratulated Ukraine on its electoral process, and all 
Russia can say is, 'Elections took place'?"  Osavolyuk also 
cast derision on the election-related comments of Duma Deputy 
Konstantin Zatulin and other Russian parliamentary observers. 
 (Alluding to "secret information," Zatulin had asserted 
before the election that the GOU would attempt to falsify the 
voting.) 
 
Coalition Prospects 
-------------------- 
 
4. (U)  Media coverage has centered on government formation 
and avoiding issues such as Black Sea Fleet basing or 
Transnistria.  Carnegie Center's Dmitriy Trenin noted in 
Nezavisimaya Gazeta that the election, the freest in 
Ukraine's history, had brought no surprises but was a step in 
the right direction, although there would probably be a weak 
and perhaps short-lived coalition and a continuation of 
inter-clan infighting.  Yanukovich, though entitled to feel 
"moral vindication" after his 2004 defeat, had not won. 
Council on Foreign and Defense Policy head Sergey Karaganov 
similarly noted in Rossiyskaya Gazeta that Ukraine's movement 
toward democracy was among the few in the post-Soviet area. 
Some newspapers predicted that Tymoshenko would emerge as PM 
following "palace intrigues," but others expected that 
neither Yanukovich nor Yushchenko would permit that. 
 
5. (C)  Public Chamber member Andranik Migranyan told the 
Ambassador March 29 that, having returned from Kiev where he 
had met with Yanukovich and members of Tymoshenko's 
entourage, he felt Ukraine remained deeply divided into East 
and South against West and Kiev.  His conclusion was that a 
"Blue-Orange" (Yushchenko-Yanukovich-Morozov) coalition would 
be best for Ukraine's integrity, although he was not certain 
 
MOSCOW 00003510  002 OF 003 
 
 
it was realistic.  In a realpolitik sense, an Orange 
coalition in Kiev might be best for Russia, since it would be 
riven with personal antagonisms, making it fragile and 
probably not long-lasting.  He thought Tymoshenko wo
uld be 
best placed as head of the Rada, where she could use her 
negotiating skills to try to put parliamentary majorities 
together.  Union of Right Forces (SPS) leader Boris Nemtsov, 
a sometime advisor to Yushchenko, told the Ambassador (ref D) 
that negotiations to establish a new government would be 
prolonged and arduous, that most leading Ukrainian 
politicians were "criminal or corrupt," and that under any 
new government Ukraine's movement toward NATO would slow, 
because most Ukrainians (not only those in the East) were not 
enthusiastic about joining the Alliance. 
 
NATO-EU Accession 
----------------- 
 
6. (C)  Looking beyond government formation, Yelagin of the 
MFA Ukraine Desk warned that if Ukraine moved to join NATO, 
"Things cannot go on as before."  It would be "unrealistic" 
for Ukraine to participate in the Single Economic Space with 
Russia, for example, while joining Western multilateral 
organizations.  Many outside analysts see Ukraine's accession 
to NATO as very likely.  Aleksandr Belkin of the Council for 
Foreign and Defense Policy said it was "on track" after the 
election, and Karaganov told us he understood a decision on 
membership was imminent.  Karaganov had warned earlier in the 
press that Ukrainian membership in NATO would turn a border 
that had never previously served as a dividing line into the 
scene of "hundreds or perhaps even thousands of small 
conflicts, capable of growing into clashes, and into a 
political-military confrontation."  He hoped the Ukrainian 
elite would display the "wisdom" necessary to avoid the 
damage that NATO accession would bring.  He told us he hopes 
the West can be persuaded to slow down the pace of Ukraine's 
movement toward NATO. 
 
7. (C)  Whatever the presumed outcome and timeline, even 
discussing Ukraine's possible accession to NATO or the EU can 
strike a raw nerve.  In a March 21 Nezavisimaya Gazeta 
article, Politika Foundation's Vyacheslav Nikonov 
characterized mention of Ukraine's possible NATO accession as 
a campaign tool to consolidate Yushchenko's Orange 
electorate.  Vitaliy Tretyakov, chief editor of Moscow News, 
claimed bitterly that Ukraine's Euro-Atlanticism meant 
"anything goes as long as it hurts Russia." 
 
Gas 
--- 
 
8. (C)  A number of analysts and MFA officials told us it 
unlikely that Ukraine's new government, whatever its 
composition, would revisit the January 4 gas deal, which was 
merely a "commercial dispute" (ref B).  Trenin, however, 
thought that if Tymoshenko came to power, she would push for 
a revision.  Several contacts believed that, once in a 
position of power, Tymoshenko would simply cut a new 
insider's deal to secure hydrocarbon revenue for her own 
circle.  In any event, Vremya Novostey's Artem Dubnov told 
us, Ukraine would become more dependent on Russian gas, since 
Turkmenistan has over-promised its gas resources and would be 
unable to fulfill its commitments. 
 
Moscow's Blind Spot 
------------------- 
 
9. (C)  The BBC's Konstantin Eggert told us that Yanukovich's 
Party of Regions was more business-oriented than pro-Russian, 
and its eastern Ukrainian base feared an influx of Russian 
big capital.  Blind to Ukraine's newly emerging national 
identity, Eggert said, the Kremlin's maneuvers consistently 
backfired.  While Russia would gain from simply recognizing 
Ukraine's independent path, Eggert predicted the GOR would 
continue fishing in murky water, trying to play one bloc off 
against the other.  He noted a critical absence of CIS 
experts attached to the Presidential Administration and said 
Russia's foreign policy toward Ukraine was not informed by 
deep or comprehensive strategic thinking. 
 
10. (C)  Andrey Ryabov, a scholar with the Institute of World 
Economic and International Relations (IMEMO), struck similar 
themes in a March 31 meeting.  He said Russian officials were 
telling themselves a fairy tale that there had been a "fatal 
crack" in the Orange Revolution; that Ukraine's economy would 
never survive in the international market apart from Russia; 
that eventually Ukrainians would grow tired of political 
confusion and seek simplicity in a strong leader (like in 
Belarus).  In fact, however, Ryabov said, Ukraine would never 
again be a junior partner to Russia.  Such wrong-headed 
mythologies, in his view, would prevent Russia from 
developing a long-term comprehensive policy toward Ukraine 
 
MOSCOW 00003510  003 OF 003 
 
 
(as opposed to simply chasing gas revenue).  Like Eggert, 
Ryabov found fault with Moscow's CIS watchers in and out of 
government, calling them "unprofessional." 
 
11. (C)  Illustrating Ryabov's point, the CIS Institute's 
Kirill Frolov in a March 31 meeting dismissed Orange 
supporters as "Fascists," "Nazis," and "Russia-haters." 
Frolov wanted to know how America could support such people. 
The best course was for America and Russia to sit down and 
work out a deal to push for federalism in Ukraine, implying 
Western and Russian spheres of influence.  Konstantin 
Zatulin, Director of the same Institute and a Duma Deputy, 
told the press there could be no improvement in relations 
with Russia until the idea of an "orange coalition" was 
discarded.  It could only deepen the split between East and 
West in Ukraine. 
 
Comment 
------- 
 
12. (C)  Before the elections the GOR cultivated relations 
with the top three candidates, hoping for a post-election 
dividend through pragmatic relations with any coalition 
government that might emerge.  Pragmatism would likely 
include normal trade relations and a continued push for Kiev 
to make some accommodation for Russian language, culture and 
presence in eastern Ukraine.  The GOR appears to expect 
Gazprom and RUE to continue to play key roles in Ukraine's 
gas transit system and domestic gas market. 
 
13. (C)  Russia would like to prevent or at least delay 
Ukraine's accession to NATO.  Less obvious is how the GOR 
will pursue that goal.  Some punitive measures against 
Ukraine have been floated, but many would entail as much pain 
on the Russian side of the border, and might well accelerate 
Ukraine's turn to the West. 
 
14. (C)  Russian officials remain reluctant to recognize the 
birth of an independent Ukrainian national consciousness and 
tend to view developments in Ukraine through an East-West 
prism.  Any Orange success is read as yet another example of 
Western -- above all, American -- hostility toward Russia. 
More fundamentally, Moscow has been unable to identify a 
positive strategy for turning Ukraine back towards Russia. 
RUSSELL

Wikileaks

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