06MOSCOW6358, U.S.-RUSSIA TALKS ON THE CAUCASUS

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MOSCOW6358 2006-06-15 05:04 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO9539
OO RUEHDBU
DE RUEHMO #6358/01 1660504
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 150504Z JUN 06
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7616
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 006358 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/15/2016 
TAGS: PREL MARR MOPS OSCE GG AM AJ RS
SUBJECT: U.S.-RUSSIA TALKS ON THE CAUCASUS 
 
Classified By: Deputy Chief of Mission Daniel A. Russell.  Reason 1.4 ( 
b, d) 
 
SUMMARY 
-------- 
 
1. (C) DAS Kramer accompanied by the DCM called on Russian 
MFA Fourth CIS Department Director (DAS equivalent) Andrey 
Kelin June 13 to discuss Caucasus issues. (Kramer met 
subsequently one-on-one with DFM Karasin on other regional 
agenda items.)  Kramer pushed Kelin hard on Russia's support 
for separatism in South Ossetia.  Kelin denied annexationist 
aspirations and said Russia's two goals for the breakaway 
province are to avoid renewed fighting and provide 
humanitarian assistance.  Kelin hoped to avoid a worst-case 
outcome from the Putin-Saakashvili meeting scheduled for 
later that day.  Kramer and Kelin praised U.S.-Russian 
cooperation on Nagorno-Karabakh.  Kramer cautioned Kelin 
regarding public statements affecting U.S. interests at the 
upcoming SCO summit.  End Summary. 
 
SCO 
--- 
 
2. (C) DAS Kramer led off a June 13 meeting with Kelin by 
reiterating the U.S. position on the upcoming summit of the 
Shanghai Cooperation Organization.  Kramer urged that there 
be no repetition of last year's call for a deadline for the 
withdrawal of U.S. bases from Central Asia.  He also hoped 
the SCO would not become a platform for unhelpful statements 
by Iranian President Ahmadi-Nejad.  Kelin replied that he 
would pass Kramer's comments on to FM Lavrov, who would begin 
preparing for the SCO meeting when he returned from St. 
Petersburg. 
 
Georgia-Russia and Saakashvili-Putin 
------------------------------------ 
 
3. (C) Kelin promised to get Kramer a readout of the meeting, 
scheduled for later that day, between the Russian and 
Georgian Presidents.  Kelin said Russia had prepared 
"constructively" through meetings with Georgia's Abkhazia 
negotiator Alasania and DFM Antadze.  Kelin did not, however, 
think that positions had been bridged.  He complained that 
Georgia, the "feebler" interlocutor, was not coming to Russia 
hat in hand, but rather "giving us the chance to make peace 
with it." 
 
4. (C) Kelin said the Georgians wanted from the meeting a 
joint statement recognizing South Ossetia as part of Georgia. 
 Russia believed that was putting the cart before the horse. 
In negotiations on Kosovo and Cyprus, the parties started 
with confidence-building measures, demilitarization, and 
economic rehabilitation.  Only then could they discuss 
status.  The Joint Control Commission (JCC) was trying to 
combine the peace plans of Saakashvili and Kokoity, which 
contained common elements.  The JCC meeting in May had 
created a group to discuss modalities.  Russia was trying to 
convene another JCC meeting, the 50th, in Tbilisi.  But the 
Georgians were floating proposals for alternative negotiating 
mechanisms, and this showed they were "not very serious." 
 
5. (C) Kramer responded that the June 1 statement by Russia's 
foreign ministry appeared to move away from Russia's previous 
support for Georgia's territorial integrity and sovereignty. 
What did Russia have against supporting Georgian territorial 
integrity?  Kelin said that the principles of "territorial 
integrity" and "self-determination" had been vying with one 
another since 1917, with one or the other dominating at any 
given time.  Every settlement depended upon a "mixture" of 
these principles, and the balance varied.  Asked why the June 
1 statement called into question the legality of Georgia's 
territorial integrity, Kelin said there were no treaties 
fixing borders in the South Caucasus.  Russia was still 
negotiating its borders with Azerbaijan. 
 
6. (C) Kramer responded that border demarcation is one thing; 
calling into question the sovereignty and territorial 
integrity of an entire country is very different.  The U.S. 
had always recognized Russia's territorial integrity in the 
face of Chechen separatism.  In contrast, the totality of 
Russia's actions left the impression in Washington that 
Russia supported separatism and even annexation.  Kramer 
cited Russian actions to unify North and South Ossetian TV 
broadcasting, the telephone system, and gas pipelines. 
 
7. (C) Kelin quoted Putin as saying that Russia had no 
aspiration to join to Russia any part of any other country. 
Kelin asserted that Russia only wanted its interlocutors to 
deal realistically with South Ossetia's  refusal to be part 
of Georgia.  Russia had two goals.  The first was to prevent 
renewed fighting and bloodshed.  Kelin noted that Russia's 
 
MOSCOW 00006358  002 OF 003 
 
 
PKF had not been augmented and stood at 500 personnel. 
Second, Russia would help South Ossetia economically.  It 
would announce nearly USD 3 million in humanitarian 
assistance at the June 14 Donors Conference. 
 
8. (C) Kramer detailed the involvement
of Russian citizens 
and officials in the South Ossetian government.  Kelin 
replied that "the State Department should not be so 
suspicious," though he admitted that "PM" Morozov was from 
Kursk.  Kramer reiterated that Russian actions run counter to 
the two goals Kelin had outlined, and which the U.S. shared. 
He asked Russia to take into account the impression its 
actions left in Tbilisi, whose suspicions grew as a 
consequence.  Both the U.S. and Russia wanted stability, 
Kramer said, and we could therefore not understand why Russia 
took actions that were provocative and could lead to 
violence.  Kramer suggested that Putin could use his meeting 
with Saakashvili to reassure Georgia on Russia's position on 
sovereignty and territorial integrity. 
 
9. (C) Kelin responded that Russia also looked at the 
impressions Georgian actions left in the North Caucasus, 
which was full of "very militant personalities."  Georgia was 
arming.  It now had four brigades trained by the U.S., the 
largest in Gori, near South Ossetia.  Every day they stopped 
peacekeepers instead of facilitating their work.  Now the 
Georgians had put two new demands on the table after fifteen 
years:  that the PKF receive Georgian visas and change their 
itinerary to enter their zone of operations.  Kelin 
reiterated that Russia cannot accept Georgian demands on 
visas, which are part of the Georgian strategy to "chase" the 
peacekeepers out of the country.  "Until the Georgians settle 
with South Ossetia on terms acceptable to both sides," he 
vowed, "we will not leave." 
 
10. (C) Kramer warned that instability in the South Caucasus 
could spill over into the North.  He noted that the 
"presidents" of three separatist entities were holding a 
meeting in Sukhumi.  The reception the separatists received 
from the Russian government sent the wrong message.  Kelin 
noted that the three "presidents" might issue a statement 
forming their own "commonwealth," but "this does not make us 
happy."  Kramer asked whether, if indeed it did not make 
Russia happy, Russia would make a statement discouraging such 
a development.  After some waffling, Kelin said he would 
think about it, but noted that the conflicts were all at 
different stages of resolution.  Kelin noted that Azerbaijan 
had protested an exhibition booth at which the 
Nagorno-Karabakh authorities hung their flag.  "Because we 
have good relations with Azerbaijan," Russia had taken 
measures to meet Azerbaijan's concerns.  But "hearing 
nastiness every day from Tbilisi," Russia was not in a mood 
to meet Georgian concerns. 
 
11. (C) Kramer asked whether Russia gave regions of other 
countries the same reception it gave to the separatist 
"presidents."  Kelin replied that Russia would meet with 
Akhalkalaki Armenians, if asked, because the Russian base 
there had been the sole employer in the region.  He noted 
that the ethnic Azeris of Georgia's Kvemo Kartli region also 
feel "abandoned."  Kramer asked why Russia received Abkhaz 
and South Ossetian leaders Bagapsh and Kokoity as presidents. 
 Kelin replied that "this is our small play with Georgia." 
Kramer responded that it was not a game, but a serious 
matter.  Russia should avoid such actions -- especially in 
support of criminal regimes such as Kokoity's -- and calm 
Tbilisi's suspicions. 
 
12.  (C)   Turning to Abkhazia, Kramer called the revival of 
the Coordinating Council an encouraging step.  Kelin agreed, 
but noted that the three working groups had not formed, owing 
to the Georgian inclusion of the Defense Minister of the 
Abkhazia government-in-exile on the delegation. 
 
13. (C) At the end of the discussion on Georgia, Kelin summed 
up the state of Russian-Georgian relations.  He hoped for 
better cooperation and better relations.  Much more would 
then be possible.  Relations would only get worse if 
Saakashvili tried to push "something radical" at the G-8. 
Even with a good Putin-Saakashvili meeting, prospects of a 
Putin visit to Georgia were remote for now.  "Too many things 
stand between us," Kelin said.  He outlined a worst-case 
scenario:  Saakashvili emerges from his meeting with Putin 
and announces that he had been unable to achieve any Russian 
concessions on the PKO in South Ossetia.  The Georgian 
Parliament and Government adopt a resolution to expel the 
Russian PKO, but Russia's peacekeepers "won't move."  Then, 
in July, the process is repeated on the Abkhazia PKO, and 
again Russia does not move.  "By August," he continued, 
"tensions would be rising very high." 
 
Nagorno-Karabakh 
 
MOSCOW 00006358  003 OF 003 
 
 
---------------- 
 
14. (C) Kramer praised U.S.-Russian cooperation on 
Nagorno-Karabakh.  He mentioned A/S Fried's positive 
impressions of his trip to the region with DFM Karasin, and 
said it was an example of what Russia and the U.S. could 
accomplish together.  Kelin agreed, and asked for U.S. views 
on next steps after the Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign 
ministers met in Paris.  Russian negotiator Merzlyakov had 
reported little new progress and warned against raising 
expectations for quick results.  Kramer and Kelin agreed that 
there was not enough new progress to take to the G-8 Summit. 
Kramer suggested that a discussion at the G-8 Ministerial 
would be appropriate, along with a short statement that 
demonstrated the commitment of all G-8 members, not just the 
Co-Chair countries.  Kelin was encouraging, but made no 
promises.  He said that it was now up to the sides to make 
progress. 
 
Comment 
------- 
 
15. (C) Kelin's words on self-determination are the new 
Russian line on conflicts.  They capitalize on Western 
acceptance of self-determination for Montenegro and Kosovo. 
Kelin's stress on stability echoes what Moscow observers have 
said of Russian strategy for the CIS and "frozen conflicts:" 
that Russian policy clings to the status quo, preferring a 
permanent freeze to either resolution or renewal of fighting. 
 Kelin implied that this was to satisfy domestic political 
concerns, i.e., the identity politics of ethnic kin of 
Ossetians and Abkhaz in Russia's restive North Caucasus 
region.   Kelin was more frank than most Russians about games 
Russia is playing to irritate Georgia, putatively in response 
to Georgian "nastiness."  His hints about the Armenians of 
Samtskhe-Javakheti and the Azeris of Kvemo Kartli echo calls 
by Moscow's chattering class to "activate" those communities 
against Georgia (something both Armenia and Azerbaijan have 
always tried to discourage). 
 
 
BURNS

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