06MOSCOW5458, AMBASSADOR’S MAY 23 MEETING WITH DFM KARASIN

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MOSCOW5458 2006-05-23 13:35 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO4427
OO RUEHDBU
DE RUEHMO #5458/01 1431335
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 231335Z MAY 06
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6310
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 005458 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/23/2016 
TAGS: PREL PGOV ENRG IR AJ AM GG BO UP RS
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR'S MAY 23 MEETING WITH DFM KARASIN 
 
REF: MOSCOW 5375 
 
Classified By: Ambassador William J. Burns.  Reason 1.4 (b, d) 
 
Summary 
-------- 
 
1. (C) Ambassador met with DFM Karasin May 23.  Karasin was 
to leave later that day for a Nagorno-Karabakh trip.  He 
hoped to be pleasantly surprised.  With regard to U/S Burns' 
letter on South Ossetia, Karasin stressed positive movement 
and labeled the rest a matter of interpretation, but argued 
that the referendum in Montenegro is "bad news" for Georgia. 
He hopes to see U/S Burns at a working lunch/meeting on the 
afternoon of June 6. 
 
2. (C) Karasin asked for U.S. thinking on Iran.  Ambassador 
warned that Iran still believes it can exploit gaps in the 
international consensus.  Karasin complained that the U.S. 
sponsored counter-narcotics conference in Dushanbe had 
undercut "existing structures" which must be preserved. 
Ambassador warned that if Ahmadi-Najad attends the SCO 
summit, statements made there will be even more sharply 
scrutinized by the international community.  Karasin called 
the Iranian attendance an "opportunity."  Karasin said he had 
made some progress on "overseas Russians" in his recent visit 
to Vilnius.  He argued for "involvement" with Belarus, not 
sanctions.  He expected a Ukrainian government to form in 
June, followed by ministerial-level meetings in July and a 
potential Putin visit in September.  End Summary. 
 
Nagorno-Karabakh 
---------------- 
 
3. (C) Ambassador met with DFM Grigoriy Karasin May 23, just 
before the latter's departure for Baku and Yerevan for a 
visit with EUR Assistant Secretary Fried and a French 
representative to discuss Nagorno-Karabakh.  Karasin said the 
most notable feature of the trip is that the U.S., Russia and 
France were working together to convince the presidents of 
Armenia and Azerbaijan to be flexible and show political 
will.  He did not want to sound optimistic, but hoped for a 
pleasant surprise that would secure the meeting of the 
presidents at a separate event in Bucharest.  This could 
clear the way for an event at the St. Petersburg G8, even 
without a breakthrough.  One could "spend an entire lifetime" 
working on the "jigsaw puzzle" of details, but the whole 
exercise provided a positive picture that we, working 
together, can have a positive influence on conflict 
resolution. 
 
Burns-Karasin Letter 
-------------------- 
 
4. (C) Karasin said he would send a written reply to U/S 
Burns.  He echoed earlier Russian views (Ref. A), saying 
"many things" in the letter were "a bit inaccurate" and 
others a matter of interpretation.  He said that social and 
economic assistance from Russia to South Ossetia via North 
Ossetia was agreed between Georgia and Russia in December 
2000.  He stressed the positive:  a "successful" JCC on May 
11-12 was important for the specific actions it agreed on. 
The June donors' conference in Brussels would be another 
step.  The important thing was to move slowly and steadily, 
avoiding provocations and military action.  In this respect, 
he said, some statements Khaindrava had made at the JCC were 
"a bad sign."  But the "logic of moving ahead is prevailing," 
and there had been good news from Abkhazia as well.  He 
argued that SRSG Tagliavini should stay on. 
 
5. (C) Ambassador replied that our concerns continue.  The 
specifics in U/S Burns' letter come within a context of 
public statements by senior Russian government officials 
implying that separatism is a logical, acceptable and even 
desirable outcome.  People "connect the dots" of Russian 
statements and actions, including the insistence of using 
Kosovo as a precedent.  Karasin broke in to say, "Montenegro 
is bad news for Saakashvili.  It will change the mentality." 
Ambassador continued that Karasin needed to understand the 
core of our concerns:  economic and other cooperation would 
be fine if it were clear that none of Russia's actions were 
aimed at undermining Georgia's territorial integrity.  That 
would also make it easier for the U.S. to be pointed with 
Georgia about its sometimes unhelpful rhetoric and actions. 
Karasin responded that this was a "chicken-and-egg" problem. 
 
6. (C) Karasin added that he also needed to correct the 
impression, given in U/S Burns' letter, that frozen conflicts 
and Belarus would be on the G8 Summit agenda.  If things go 
right on Nagorno-Karabakh, that conflict would be, he said. 
Ambassador pointed out that the letter discussed the agenda 
for the Ministerial, not the Summit.  Karasin gave no direct 
 
MOSCOW 00005458  002 OF 003 
 
 
reply.  He said he understood that U/S Burns will be arriving 
on June 6, and proposed a working lunch and meeting that 
afternoon.  He thought he might not be
in Moscow June 7. 
 
Iran 
---- 
 
7. (C) Karasin asked for Ambassador's perspective on Iran. 
Ambassador replied that it is crucial to send a strong, 
unified, international signal to Tehran; otherwise, the 
Iranians will continue to think they can exploit gaps in the 
international consensus.  Karasin agreed it is important that 
the Iranians understand that we are listening to one another 
and that they cannot play off the "major players" against one 
another.  He added, however, that "we should exclude all 
thought and plans of use of force."  He noted that Azerbaijan 
is concerned about the prospect of use of force against Iran. 
 
8. (C) Karasin took the opportunity to complain about the 
U.S.-organized Central and South Asian Counter-Narcotics and 
Security Working Group meeting (Ref. B) that took place in 
Dushanbe earlier this month (to which Iran was not invited). 
It would duplicate existing structures, exclude major players 
such as Russia and China, and turn Central Asia into a Great 
Power battleground.  The Ambassador rebutted Karasin's 
concerns, emphasizing that counter-narcotics was an important 
practical concern for all of us. 
 
9. (C) Ambassador indicated that Iranian President 
Ahmadi-Najad's presence would be a very negative factor at 
the upcoming Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit.  With 
him there, what gets said and done will be watched extremely 
carefully.  If, for example, the SCO again made statements 
about U.S. bases, those statements would be "sharpened" by 
his presence, especially given his propensity for dangerous 
and offensive public statements.  We would prefer that 
members would avoid bilateral contacts.  Karasin replied that 
"your concerns are duly noted," but hoped that the U.S. has a 
"level of confidence" that the participants will influence 
the proceedings in a positive way.  No one is interested in 
turning South Asia and Central Asia into a conflict zone. 
Karasin believed the opportunity for Asian states to 
communicate with Ahmadi-Najad was positive. 
 
Baltics-Belarus-Ukraine 
----------------------- 
 
10. (C) Karasin thought he had made some headway in his 
recent meeting in Vilnius with 60 ethnic Russian 
organizations from throughout the Baltics.  He had proposed 
to the Latvians that they make a gesture by waiving the 
Latvian language requirement for citizenship for those over 
60.  He had also proposed steps to promote the Russian 
language, since it was the "lingua franca" of the Baltics. 
He hoped the U.S. might "gently press" the Baltics to create 
a "more positive" atmosphere in their relations with Russia. 
Ambassador noted that where there have been valid specific 
concerns, the U.S. has done so. 
 
11. (C) Asked about Belarus, Karasin said he believed 
engagement is the best strategy.  Sanctions would only 
strengthen the "moral and political unity of the people 
around the leader," to quote a Soviet saying.  Karasin 
doubted that democracy could be imposed from outside.  Russia 
would continue its contacts and help Belarus understand why 
the international community is unhappy with it.  Ambassador 
suggested that Russia might propose to Belarus specific steps 
it needs to take, now that the election is history. 
Lukashenko's reputation is well known.  Karasin responded 
that that is the fault of Western "information authorities." 
Ambassador said that Lukashenko's reputation is well beyond 
the power of even the most artful public diplomacy to 
improve.  Russia, which has influence, should persuade 
Belarus to take concrete steps to open up political space and 
respond to international concerns.  Karasin proposed that the 
U.S. and Russia understand where each stands.  He fretted 
that Belarus has taken on the mentality of a cornered nation, 
which makes progress problematic. 
 
12. (C) At the same time, Karasin continued, it was important 
that "market rules" apply in Russia's relations with all its 
neighbors, including in the field of energy.  There could be 
"compensation packages" in deals with RAO UES and Gazprom to 
make the pill easier to swallow, but "the price of gas and 
oil must be predictable and market-priced."  There could be 
no exceptions among Russia's neighbors.  Special relations 
and deals might make this goal difficult, but it was 
important for the sake of Russia's relations with its 
neighbors. 
 
13. (C) Karasin had little to report on Ukraine.  He hoped 
there would be a government in June.  That meant the 
 
MOSCOW 00005458  003 OF 003 
 
 
ministerial-level sub-groups of the "Putin-Yushchenko 
Commission" could meet in July, with participation of the new 
Ukrainian interlocutors for the Prime, Defense and Foreign 
Affairs Ministers.  August would be "silly season," but 
enough work might be done before then to justify a 
well-prepared Putin visit to Kiev in September.  Karasin 
stressed, however, that the decision on timing was a Kremlin 
call. 
 
BURNS

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