06MOSCOW3751, CODEL FRIST MEETING WITH FM LAVROV

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MOSCOW3751 2006-04-10 13:19 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO7928
OO RUEHDBU RUEHLN RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHMO #3751/01 1001319
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 101319Z APR 06
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3902
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 MOSCOW 003751 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PREL RS
SUBJECT: CODEL FRIST MEETING WITH FM LAVROV 
 
(U)  Sensitive but unclassified; handle accordingly. 
 
1. (SBU)  Summary.  Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) 
and Senators Judd Gregg (R-NH) and Richard Burr (R-NC), 
accompanied by Ambassador Burns, met April 10 for with 
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to discuss current 
bilateral and multilateral issues.  On Iran, Lavrov warned 
that Russia would not support threatening Tehran with 
Security Council sanctions, and said raising issues like 
human rights and Iranian support for terrorism in the UNSC 
would "guarantee that Iran will never respond positively." 
On dealing with Hamas, he said Russia got no answer when it 
asked what gameplan the U.S. was following in insisting on a 
no-contacts policy.  He said it was not clear what coalition 
would be formed in Ukraine, but stressed the importance of 
close Russian-Ukrainian relations.  On Georgia, he said 
President Saakashvili's anti-Russian rhetoric made relations 
difficult, and warned against demands for a withdrawal of 
Russian peacekeepers or any recourse to force.  In Central 
Asia, concerns for stability should rule out democratization 
steps that did not respect local traditions. 
 
2. (SBU)  Lavrov said the U.S.-Russia bilateral relationship 
was critical to world stability and was built on firm 
foundations.  He complained, however, about "unfair" 
criticism and "double standards" on the U.S. side.  He 
objected to Assistant Secretary Lowenkron's reference to an 
"erosion of democracy" in Russia, saying that under Yeltsin 
the pendulum had swung so far in one direction that tough 
measures had been needed to restore some balance.  Russia had 
been a democracy for only 15 years, and a trial-and-error 
search for the right way to proceed would continue for some 
time.  The U.S. was applying different standards to Russia's 
WTO application than had been applied to Ukraine.  He said 
the GOR favored a joint U.S.-Russian initiative at the G-8 
Summit in St. Petersburg concerning nuclear energy and 
security.  End Summary. 
 
Iran 
---- 
 
3. (SBU)   Senator Frist said press reporting in the U.S. on 
Iran had taken on a life of its own, and Russia might be 
unclear about what U.S. intentions towards Iran were.  The 
sense in the Senate was that the U.S. did not intend to 
resolve the Iranian problem through the use of force.  Lavrov 
said Russia had been engaged in intense discussions on Iran 
with the U.S., Europe and China, and discussions would 
continue, but the common path that had been pursued to date 
might not hold.  Russia would not support threatening Iran 
with UNSC sanctions.  Unfortunately, when Washington said it 
wanted collective action on an issue, it often simply wanted 
the world to support whatever the U.S. had already decided to 
do.  There should be engagement before the U.S. made final 
decisions about what had to be done; such consultations 
"would not involve a loss of face."  When problems were truly 
global, only a genuinely global response would be effective 
 
 
4. (SBU)  There were now indications, Lavrov continued, that 
the Iran scenario was developing along the same lines as the 
Iraq scenario had several years ago.  Secretary Rice had said 
in Berlin that the UNSC should address not only the Iranian 
nuclear program, but also such issues as terrorism and human 
rights.  "That would  guarantee that Iran will never respond 
positively," Lavrov said, and it invited a confrontation. 
Senator Burr stressed the need  for the U.S., Russia, and 
other states to cooperate to find a stable solution. 
 
Hamas 
----- 
 
5. (SBU)  Lavrov said Hamas had been democratically elected 
and now formed the Palestinian Authority's government.  If 
the plan was to "suffocate its funding" and hope the Hamas 
government would fall, what was the strategy?  If there were 
new elections, Hamas would win even a larger percentage of 
the vote.  Or it might turn away from engaging in democratic 
politics, or Israel might try to resolve the issue through a 
"sweeping operation."  Pursuing such options would be very 
short-sighted.  When the U.S. said there should be "no" 
contact with Hamas, Russia wanted to know what the U.S. 
gameplan was, but it got no answer.  Fortunately, the Quartet 
would again be meeting to discuss the situation. 
 
Relations with Russia's Neighbors 
---------------------------------- 
 
6. (SBU)  Lavrov said Moscow sometimes had the impression 
that "the worse a CIS country treats Russia, the better its 
relations are with Washington."  The number of democratic 
 
MOSCOW 00003751  002 OF 004 
 
 
countries around the world had increased over the past 
decade, but the road to democracy differed in each case.  No 
single model was applicable universally.  People did not 
pursue democracy for its own sake, but for the stability and 
security it can bring.  In Central Asia, however, any "color 
revolution" could easily lead to an Islamist revolution that, 
with the region's artificial borders, could bring widespread 
harm, and Russia was closer to the problem than the U.S. 
"The current governments are at least a barrier to an 
Islamist revolutio
n," and other countries should respect the 
traditions of the people and their stage of historical 
development, and avoid actions that would destabilize the 
region.  He suggested following a model as in the Broader 
Middle East, where "we are not telling them what to do." 
 
7. (SBU)  On Ukraine, Lavrov said the GOR wished the 
Ukrainians well in forming a coalition.  There were many 
options, but it seemed most would not be very sustainable. 
Probably no government would have a clear mandate, and the 
country's problems would remain unsolved.  Russia wanted a 
stable and Russia-friendly Ukraine that made its own 
decisions about what it should do.  He could not see, 
however, how any democratic Ukrainian government could ignore 
the historic links (families, economic ties) to Russia. 
 
8. (SBU)  Similarly, Russia wanted friendly relations with 
Georgia.  That was hard, however, when President Saakashvili 
publicly claimed, e.g., that Russia had blown up pipelines on 
its own territory to harm Georgia, even as Russian 
specialists were working at 25 degrees below zero to repair 
the lines.  Saakashvili thought he could be successful 
through the use of anti-Russian rhetoric.  Russia was 
withdrawing from its bases in Georgia, and was on schedule in 
that withdrawal.  It could not agree, however, that all 
decisions about South Ossetia and Abkhazia should be taken in 
Tbilisi, or that Russian peacekeepers should be withdrawn. 
The Georgian government could make its choices, but it should 
understand that "the peacekeepers are the reason why those 
conflicts are called 'frozen.'  If the peacekeepers go, they 
will again become very hot conflicts." 
 
9. (SBU)  Tbilisi was building up its arms, Lavrov said, "in 
quantities that make no sense unless they plan to take 
military action."  South Ossetia was the more dangerous of 
the two conflicts, since Georgian and Ossetian villages were 
intermingled in a patchwork with no clear dividing lines.  In 
Abkhazia there was a river that divided most of Abkhazia from 
Georgia.  The GOR was working directly with Tbilisi, but also 
with the U.S. and the Europeans, to try to make sure the 
Georgians do not try to solve those problems through force. 
Full use should be made of the existing mechanisms for 
resolving the conflicts, and there recently had been a 
positive decision to have a working group on South Ossetia 
put together a course of action drawing on both Georgian and 
South Ossetia peace plans. 
 
10. (SBU)  Saakashvili had vowed he would "reunify" Georgia 
by the end of his Presidency, Lavrov noted.  While speaking 
of giving South Ossetia and Abkhazia more autonomy, however, 
he never used the word "federation" -- much less 
"confederation," a term Shevardnadze had used.  Moreover, the 
Ossetians and Abkhaz saw how much autonomy Ajaria was granted 
when it was reincorporated into Georgia, and judged 
Saakashvili on that basis. 
 
 Bilateral Relations 
------------------- 
 
11. (SBU)  Lavrov said U.S.-Russian relations were built on 
very solid foundations, and their progress was overseen 
through the Presidential Checklist mechanism that was 
functioning quite well.  The relationship was critical to 
world stability in its security, terrorism, and economic 
dimensions, "although our yearly trade figures are like your 
monthly trade figures with China."  In general, the bilateral 
relationship was positive, but Russia could not ignore the 
"manner" in which concerns about Russia are now being raised 
in the U.S.  Moscow welcomed serious discussion of real 
problems, and the major changes to NGO legislation made 
because of Council of Europe recommendations proved that 
Russia took international views into account.  But the way in 
which criticism of Russia was being made indicated that some 
in the U.S. wanted to "put us out of balance and to make life 
more difficult for us."  When the Soviet Union collapsed, the 
West had said the world needed a strong Russia, not a weak 
one.  "Now Russia is strong, and some people don't like it." 
Russia accepted that it is a competitor in a competitive 
world, but the competition should be fair. 
 
12. (SBU)  Continuing on the theme of "unfair" criticism, 
Lavrov cited a recent description by Assistant Secretary 
 
MOSCOW 00003751  003 OF 004 
 
 
Lowenkron of  the situation in Russian as an "erosion of 
democracy"  and calls by members of Congress for both keeping 
Russia out of the WTO and keeping Jackson-Vanik restrictions 
in place until high intellectual property rights standards 
are reached.  Russia saw "double standards" at work in such 
instances.  "We don't try to look better than we are," Lavrov 
said, "but there is no 'erosion of democracy' here."  Under 
Yeltsin the pendulum had swung so far in one direction that 
tough measures were needed to restore some balance.  Russia 
has been a democracy for only 15 years, and a trial-and-error 
search for the right way to proceed would continue for some 
time.  Everything the government would do, however, would be 
consistent with the Russian constitution. 
 
13. (SBU)  Russia understood that reports from private 
centers like Human Rights Watch were not official statements, 
Lavrov said, but the State Department report on human rights 
in Russia also included questionable material, e.g., an 
assertion that women in Russia felt uncomfortable because of 
the absence of a law punishing sexual harassment.  People in 
Russia saw that kind of criticism as "showing a desire to 
bite us for anything, and even for nothing."  Russia's 
adoption of proportional representation and the elimination 
of gubernatorial elections were standard practice in many 
European countries; why were they acceptable there but not in 
Russia?  The U.S. used an indirect system for Presidential 
elections that twice had resulted in the election of a 
President who had received fewer votes than his opponent.  If 
the U.S. wanted to question Russian practices, it would have 
to accept Russia discussing American practices. 
 
14. (SBU)  Senator Frist welcomed the opportunity to exchange 
views with Lavrov.  He understood Lavrov's point about the 
pendulum in Russia swinging back from where it had been 
during the Yeltsin years, but many in the U.S. saw, e.g., 
restrictions on freedom of the press and were unclear about 
where Russia's leaders wanted the country to be in five 
years.  Lavrov did not respond directly to that question. 
 
15. (SBU)  IPR protections, Lavrov said, were much worse in 
Ukraine than in Russia, and the GOR had taken not only 
legislative but also enforcement actions to address the 
problem that do exist.  Frist said the U.S. recognized that 
Russia had made some progress on IPR, but there was still a 
long way to go.  Senator Gregg noted that IPR experience with 
China led many to believe we should not rely simply on paper 
commitments.  Lavrov responded that IPR w
as a complicated 
issue with many aspects that were now being discussed by 
experts.  Russia did not claim it had resolved all existing 
problems, but much progress had been made.  Senator Burr said 
it was a difficult issue, and the U.S. interest lay in 
finding an outcome that would be fair and equitable for all 
concerned.  "We want a global economy that includes Russia." 
 
Nunn-Lugar, Terrorism, Nuclear Issues 
------------------------------------- 
 
16. (SBU)  Lavrov said the Nunn-Lugar Program had provided 
Russia critical support at the time of the break-up of the 
Soviet Union, particularly with regard to the transfer of 
nuclear weapons from Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan, and it 
still played an important role in today's different 
circumstances.  It was anomalous, however, that only 30 
percent of the Nunn-Lugar funding for Russia was actually 
spent for equipment and services in Russia, while 70 percent 
went to U.S. contractors.  That was the lowest level of 
funding reaching Russia among all the programs of the G-8 
Global Partnership.  With European contributions, Lavrov 
said, the proportion was reversed, with about 70 percent of 
funding actually getting to Russia. 
 
17. (SBU) Lavrov thanked Frist for having co-sponsored the 
Senate's resolution in 2004  on Beslan.  He raised the issue 
of Ilyas Akhmadov, who was granted political asylum in the 
U.S. despite evidence submitted by the GOR showing that he 
had committed terrorist crimes for which he should be 
extradited to Russia.  Lavrov hoped U.S. legislators would 
not lose sight of the Akhmadov issue. 
 
18. (SBU)  Lavrov said the GOR favored a joint U.S.-Russian 
initiative at the G-8 Summit in St. Petersburg concerning 
nuclear energy and security.  Such an initiative would be in 
the spirit of the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership, which 
both President Bush and President Putin support.  Lavrov 
noted Putin's support for the creation of nuclear fuel cycle 
facilities under the control of the IAEA in a few 
international centers that would make nuclear fuel available 
to all NPT members. 
 
19. (SBU)  In opening remarks, Lavrov stressed the importance 
of parliamentary exchanges, noting that Federation Council 
 
MOSCOW 00003751  004 OF 004 
 
 
President Mironov had been received in Washington when he 
visited there in 2003 and that both houses of our parliaments 
were pursuing contacts.  He also expressed condolences to 
constituents of Senator Frist affected by recent natural 
disasters in Tennessee. 
 
20. (U)  CODEL Frist did not have an opportunity to clear 
this cable before departing Moscow. 
BURNS

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