06MOSCOW6535, RUSSIAN MFA ON PUTIN-SAAKASHVILI TALKS

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MOSCOW6535 2006-06-20 12:16 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO4802
OO RUEHDBU
DE RUEHMO #6535/01 1711216
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 201216Z JUN 06
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7844
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 02 MOSCOW 006535 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/20/2016 
TAGS: PREL MARR MOPS PBTS GG RS
SUBJECT: RUSSIAN MFA ON PUTIN-SAAKASHVILI TALKS 
 
REF: A) TBILISI 1407 B) TBILISI 1416 C) MOSCOW 6341 
 
Classified By: A/POL Bruce Donahue.  Reason 1.4 (b, d) 
 
1. (C) Summary:  The Russian MFA notetaker at the June 13 
meeting between Presidents Putin and Saakashvili said the 
discussion was a constructive start to dialogue.  He stressed 
several times that Russia was not a party to any of the 
frozen conflicts, and that it was the South Ossetians and 
Abkhaz with whom the Georgians needed patiently and 
peacefully to work out agreements.  The GOR believes, 
however, that Georgia is intent upon military action in South 
Ossetia.  The MFA official noted that unresolved conflicts 
could complicate Georgia's bid to join NATO.  End Summary. 
 
2. (C) MFA Fourth CIS Department Deputy Director Dmitriy 
Tarabrin gave us a readout June 19 of the June 13 meeting 
between Putin and Saakashvili, at which Tarabrin was the 
Russian notetaker.  Tarabrin, a 38-year veteran of the Soviet 
and Russian foreign ministries, spent most of his career 
working on France and Western Europe.  He became deputy for 
on Caucasus conflicts and regional issues only six months ago 
and will act as director of the Georgia office as well for at 
least four months.  He confined his readout to sketchy 
generalities and platitudes.  Russian participants in the 
Putin-Saakashvili meeting were President Putin, FM Sergey 
Lavrov, Presidential Foreign Policy Advisor Sergey Prikhodko 
and Tarabrin; on the Georgian side were President 
Saakashvili, FM Gela Bezhuashvili, Amb. Irakli Chubinishvili 
and, taking notes, Presidential Assistant Nato Kancheli. 
 
3. (C) Tarabrin said the meeting was constructive, the 
conversation frank but polite.  Putin led off by deploring 
the current state of Russian-Georgian relations.  Saakashvili 
responded that Georgia wanted a good neighbor to the north, 
not "the sea" (i.e., open space).  Putin answered with a list 
of ways in which Russia was helping Georgia:  as Georgia's 
main trading partner, chief energy supplier, origin of USD 
1.5 to 2 billion in remittances to Georgia, and participant 
in restructuring Georgia's international debt. 
 
4. (C) Saakashvili's main agenda item was frozen conflicts, 
Tarabrin said.  Most of the discussion was focused on South 
Ossetia, with Abkhazia mentioned only briefly.  Saakashvili 
maintained that the territorial integrity of Georgia was his 
main concern.  If this issue were resolved, all others would 
fall into place.  Putin responded that Russia supported the 
principle of territorial integrity.  However, there was 
another principle:  self-determination.  Any solution would 
be a combination of the two principles.  Putin called for 
patience.  "You Georgians want to settle everything all at 
once," he said.  Instead, Putin counseled taking things step 
by step. 
 
5. (C) Tarabrin said Saakashvili maintained Georgia would 
grant South Ossetia broad autonomy.  Tarabrin added, however, 
that public Russian support at this point for Georgian 
territorial integrity and South Ossetian autonomy within 
Georgia would create big internal problems for Russia.  North 
Caucasians would consider such a statement a betrayal. 
Rather, Tarabrin stressed, Russia was not a party to the 
conflict.  Only Georgia and South Ossetia were parties to the 
conflict, and Russia's role was to help resolve their 
differences.  Putin, he said, had stressed to Saakashvili 
that existing mechanisms were adequate for that task.  The 
first step must necessarily be the acceptance of a joint 
statement on non-use of force to resolve the dispute.  This 
was needed to create an atmosphere of confidence. 
 
6. (C) To Saakashvili's protests against Russian 
annexationist policies Putin gave assurances that Russia had 
no claims on Georgian territory.  The key to resolution, 
Putin reiterated, was patience and renunciation of force. 
Tarabrin added that the Russian MFA -- and the "other" 
agencies that followed the issue -- believed with absolute 
certainty that Georgia was intent upon military action in 
South Ossetia.  He stressed again that Russia is not a party 
to the conflict and that Georgia and South Ossetia must 
resolve the dispute between themselves. 
 
7. (C) Tarabrin said that the same held true for Abkhazia. 
The Coordinating Council had set up three groups to work on 
non-use of force, economic rehabilitation, and return of the 
civilian population.  Regrettably, these groups had not met. 
We noted that Georgia was requesting an international 
civilian police contingent to protect the returning civilian 
population in Gali.  Tarabrin said this was a matter between 
Abkhazia and Georgia.  Criminality was rife, and the CIS PKF 
had begun escorting farmers to market, though this was not 
part of its mandate.  We reiterated that a permanent solution 
needed to be put in place, and Russia should support a CivPol 
force.  Tarabrin reiterated that the matter was for 
 
MOSCOW 00006535  002 OF 002 
 
 
d
iscussion between the Abkhaz and Georgians.  If the Abkhaz 
accepted such a force, why should Russia object?  We noted 
that Russia had great influence with the Abkhaz that it could 
use to promote the idea.  Tarabrin replied that there was 
good contact between Georgian negotiator Alasania and Abkhaz 
leader Bagapsh; the dialogue must be allowed to work. 
 
8. (C) Tarabrin summed up the meeting as a constructive 
beginning to a dialogue to create a new atmosphere.  He 
maintained that Saakashvili, like Putin, understood that one 
meeting could not resolve all outstanding issues between 
Russia and Georgia.  For example, when Putin pressed 
Saakashvili on a counter-terrorism center agreed in the 
context of base withdrawals, Saakashvili replied that he was 
not against it, but the atmosphere was not yet ripe for such 
a move.  (Note:  Tarabrin did not mention that Saakashvili 
agreed to take action to resettle the Meskhetian Turks, and 
shook hands with Putin on it.  End Note.) 
 
9. (C) We noted to Tarabrin that some Georgians have 
concluded that Russia would not help resolve the frozen 
conflicts as long as Georgia maintained its aspirations to 
join NATO.  Tarabrin professed that Russian policy had no 
objections to any country choosing its alliances, and 
believed that Georgia would be given a MAP after the Riga 
Summit.  But, he said, the persistence of unresolved 
conflicts would surely make Georgia's NATO accession 
difficult "from an objective point of view."  Exactly so, we 
pointed out.  Russia might therefore find unresolved 
conflicts useful.  Tarabrin strenuously denied that.  "That 
is not the aim of our policy," he maintained.  "It is our 
desire to have all those problems resolved.  The permanent 
conservation of frozen conflicts on our frontiers is not in 
our interests." 
 
Comment 
------- 
 
10. (C)  Most Russian official interlocutors used to stress 
that Russia was key to the resolution of the frozen 
conflicts.  Now, however, there is a new line -- stressed by 
Tarabrin and apparently by Putin as well:  Russia is not 
involved and has no effective levers to influence the 
separatists, but will oppose Georgia if -- as the GOR expects 
-- Georgia resorts to military means.  Saakashvili and 
Bezhuashvili (refs a and b) apparently concluded from the 
meeting that Georgia's NATO ambitions are the factor driving 
Russia's reluctance to resolve the frozen conflicts, implying 
a possible trade-off -- as indeed FM Lavrov hinted at the 
meeting, according to Georgian Ambassador Chubinishvili. 
Chubinishvili stressed, however, that Putin made no proposals 
and had no suggestions for the Georgians.  Chubinishvili 
instead got the strong impression that Putin understands that 
the current Georgian government will not trade away its NATO 
ambitions and knows there is no point in proposing a trade. 
Rather, Chubinishvili believes, Putin fully expects Georgia 
to resort to military force in South Ossetia, and is 
concentrating on a strong Russian reaction to that challenge, 
without regard for the consequences to Georgia. 
BURNS

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