06MOSCOW9414, ABKHAZIA: DFM KARASIN SPELLS OUT TOUGH RUSSIAN

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MOSCOW9414 2006-08-28 14:45 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO3009
OO RUEHDBU
DE RUEHMO #9414/01 2401445
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 281445Z AUG 06
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1243
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 009414 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/28/2016 
TAGS: PREL MARR MOPS UNSC GG RS
SUBJECT: ABKHAZIA:  DFM KARASIN SPELLS OUT TOUGH RUSSIAN 
LINE 
 
 
Classified By: Ambassador William J. Burns.  Reason 1.4 (b, d) 
 
1. (C) Summary:  At his initiative, DFM Karasin on August 28 
briefed Western Friends Chiefs of Mission on developments in 
Abkhazia, which he had recently visited.  He said Georgia's 
July operation in the Kodori Gorge was a violation of the 
1994 ceasefire agreement and had created a "disbalance" in 
the region.  He demanded the withdrawal of all Georgian armed 
formations from the Gorge.  He called Georgia's deployment to 
the Gorge of the Government of Abkhazia in Exile a 
"provocation" and warned of Abkhazia's "ultimatum-like" 
response.  He called Georgia's refusal to allow the CIS PKF 
to monitor the Gorge a violation of the ceasefire.  He noted 
the upcoming renewal of UNOMIG's mandate, and said Georgia's 
action calls it into question; Russia would favor a statement 
on Kodori in any UNSCR (Ambassador later told Karasin 
privately that this would be a very complex issue and urged 
him to think carefully before setting off down this road). 
Karasin called on the Western Friends to recognize that 
Abkhazia and South Ossetia were "alarmed" at what they 
perceive as a Georgian commitment to resolve the conflicts by 
force.  He called on Western Friends countries not to aid the 
"militarization" of Georgia.  Karasin saw no need for a Civil 
Police contingent in Gali.  End summary. 
 
2. (C) Karasin, with special negotiator Bocharnikov and IV 
CIS Department acting Director Tarabrin, received chiefs of 
mission from the Western Friends -- U.S., UK, Germany and 
France -- on August 28.  He expressed Russia's concern over 
the situation in the Kodori Gorge, which is "tending to 
degrade."  He singled out Georgian President Saakashvili's 
August 15 instruction to create the infrastructure to 
relocate the "Abkhaz Government in Exile" in the Gorge.  He 
noted that the Abkhaz have said that would be unacceptable, 
and have responded with tough, "ultimatum-like" responses 
declaring their unwillingness to resume peace negotiations 
unless the situation reverted to that before the Georgian 
operation.  "We cannot ignore their attitude," Karasin said. 
 
3. (C) Karasin stated that the May 1994 ceasefire agreement 
demanded the withdrawal of all Georgian troops from the 
Kodori Gorge.  He stressed that this applied to all Georgian 
armed formations (i.e., Interior Ministry forces as well as 
MOD).  Karasin noted that the UNOMIG Chief Military Observer 
also believed the Georgian action to be a violation of the 
ceasefire.  He added that subsequent agreements forbid the 
construction of military infrastructure there (the 
implication being that some of the construction ordered for 
relocating the Government in Exile might be a violation). 
Karasin asserted that contrary to notification agreements, 
the Georgian side never informed the Abkhaz side of its 
intention to carry out the operation. 
 
4. (C) Karasin said that his trip to Sukhumi had convinced 
him that the Georgian operation had effected a "substantive 
disbalance" in the regional situation.  The Georgian demand 
that the CIS PKF not participate in monitoring the Upper 
Kodori Gorge was a clear violation of Article 4.2 of the 1994 
ceasefire, he asserted.  The Georgian excuse that the PKF 
presence was unacceptable to the local population "does not 
withstand critical scrutiny."  Rather, new SRSG Arneaud had 
stressed the importance of the PKF during his recent visit to 
Tbilisi. 
 
5. (C) Karasin reminded the Friends that the UNOMIG mandate 
needed renewal by October 15.  He questioned whether any 
renewal would be worthwhile if Georgian forces do not leave 
Kodori.  Bocharnikov added that the absence of comment on 
Kodori in previous UNSCRs had led to the current situation, 
and implied that Russia will demand a statement on Kodori in 
the October resolution.  (After the meeting, Ambassador 
privately told Karasin that Russian concerns could seriously 
complicate the process of adopting a UNSCR.) 
 
6. (C) Karasin said that Tbilisi's action to renege on 
previous agreements was also noticeable in South Ossetia. 
Karasin counted "on your wisdom to tell Georgia that it 
cannot resolve these conflicts by force.  Rather, it will 
destroy what has been accomplished.  If we unite our forces, 
however, we can facilitate progress in negotiations." 
Karasin called on the Friends to understand the Abkhaz 
position on non-renewal of hostilities and security 
guarantees.  He cited the Georgian-Abkhaz Coordination 
Council as a hopeful venue, though the "changed 
circumstances" might make sessions problematic.  At the same 
time, the Sochi working groups on IDPs and the railroad had 
not exhausted their potential. 
 
7. (C) Karasin said that the opening of a human rights office 
in Gali was a positive impulse, but he said he was not 
convinced that deployment of a Civil Police contingent would 
 
MOSCOW 00009414  002 OF 002 
 
 
aid n
egotiations.  The criminal situation, which has improved 
in the past year, does not warrant physical reinforcement of 
police structures.  Ambassador suggested that the Civil 
Police idea deserved further study and might help ease 
tensions over time. 
 
8. (C) Karasin said that after normalization of the situation 
in the zone of conflict progress might be made on peace 
initiatives, including Bagapsh's "Key to the Future and an 
analogous paper elaborated in Tbilisi (Comment:  He made no 
mention of the Boden Paper.  End comment).  In reply to a 
question by the Ambassador, Karasin stressed that the next 
step needed to be fostering a greater understanding by both 
the Abkhaz and the Georgians of the factors that alarmed each 
of them.  He feared that the Kodori operation might 
strengthen those in Tbilisi who believe that a similar quick, 
forceful strike on Abkhazia might end that conflict.  He 
labeled this a dangerous tendency that made both the Abkhaz 
and the South Ossetians nervous.  He called on the 
international community to demand completely the elimination 
of the use of force and the return of the status quo ante in 
Kodori.  He labeled the relocation of the Government in Exile 
a "provocation" to create a second power structure in 
Abkhazia, though given that Kodori is inaccessible for eight 
months of the year, we would have to wait and see what 
happened there in reality.  He noted that Russia is 
additionally concerned about Kodori because it lies on 
Russia's borders. 
 
9. (C) Ambassador replied that international community needed 
to continue its efforts to reduce tensions in the region. 
Russia also needed to use its influence to restrain the 
Abkhaz and calm the situation.  The French Charge noted that 
Western Governments have urged Tbilisi to show restraint. 
Karasin replied that while Georgia listens to Western calls 
for restraint, in reality it is engaged in intensive 
militarization, buying tanks and howitzers from Central 
Europe.  Calls for restraint must be accompanied by concrete 
measures to prevent militarization.  Karasin ended with a 
dire warning that under current circumstances public opinion 
in Southern Russia (read:  the ethnic autonomies of the North 
Caucasus) is becoming harder to restrain and is taking on an 
increasingly belligerent tone.  Karasin called for another 
meeting of the Moscow chapter of the friends later in 
September, before work started on the new UNSCR. 
 
10. (C) Comment:  Russia is trying to regain the initiative 
after the success of Georgia's Kodori operation.  The Friends 
group has rarely met in Moscow, and Karasin appears to want 
to ensure that it will start doing so as a counterweight to 
the Tbilisi chapter.  The aim of his tough message appeared 
to be to convert Russian unhappiness about the Georgian 
operation into something tangible in a UNSC Resolution.  At 
the same time, Russia appears to be genuinely concerned that 
fighting will break out in Abkhazia as hard-liners gain in 
strength in Tbilisi and the Abkhaz become harder to control. 
That would force a change in the status quo, and change in 
any direction threatens Russian interests. 
BURNS

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